Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, September 10, 2007


This is coolbert:

Comment from a reader to the blog has my head really spinning. Really so!

First, see this blog entry from way back when, almost three years ago now.

Then see the comments, made ONLY TODAY, again, from a reader to that specific blog entry.

I had thought my memory served me right on this item. Evidently I am far off. Had some of the facts right, but only in a peripheral manner. What I did recall was originally reported in the Far East edition of the Stars and Stripes GI newspaper? Maybe NOT!?

Actual facts regarding this Vietnam incident are :

* First, it was not a General, it was a full bird Colonel [the commander of the airborne unit in Vietnam].

* Second, the hatchets were "issued".

* Third, it was a "case of American scotch", not 5 days R&R.

* Fourth, it was hand-to-hand combat

* Fifth, this does not go "against the Laws of Land Warfare". !

* Sixth, Seventh and Eighth no one was "Courts Martial ed" and no one went to Leavenworth. As a matter of fact, the "Troop" went on to RETIRE (after 20+ years) from the 82nd Abn Div and is now a police officer (at 60+ years old!). Also, the career of the "General" (really a Colonel at the time) was not over by a long shot. He spent another tour in Vietnam (66-67), later commanded a Unit in Korea (2nd ID I think), and also commanded the 82nd Abn Div and RETIRED at the rank of Lt. General. His tactics are still taught and used to this day.

Whoa, this is heavy stuff!! I stand corrected. Thanks to "anonymous"!

Some further comments of my own in addition:

* Issuing hatchets to all the troops WOULD have made those authorized weapons. This is so! If the troops were carrying them and they had NOT been issued, THAT WOULD HAVE THEN BEEN AN UNAUTHORIZED WEAPON!!

[prior to departing overseas for the first time, I recall that when being processed through Oakland Army Terminal [OART], you were specifically asked to turn in any firearms or edged weapons you had in your possession. It WAS a courts martial offense to have them on your person and TAKE them to Vietnam. A whole bunch of folks did put various handguns and big old knives on the table as I remember. That was MORE to protect the U.S. troops in their encampment than anything else!!]

* A case of American Scotch was WORTH A SMALL FORTUNE IN VIETNAM at the time. That troop could have kept one bottle for himself, been very happy, sold the rest of the Scotch and probably bought a new car when he got back to the states.

* It WAS hand-to-hand combat. Deliberately sought out by the GI as was desired by the unit commander. Again, as I recall the article reported in the Stars and Stripes, the soldier had killed the VC, and THEN took the head off as a trophy. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AGAINST THE RULES OF LAND WARFARE. Not merely killing the enemy, but taking the head off as a trophy would have been illegal.

Thank you to the informant "anonymous". This is the type of thing that DOES need to be cleared up.

GI's in Vietnam did NOT behave as savages and barbarians. Closing with the enemy and killing them with an edged weapon is a rarity in modern combat, BUT IS NOT A WAR CRIME!!

Aggressiveness YES - - barbarity NO!!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous again! I didn't realize that the post was 3-4 years old. I apologize for bringing it back up but it struck a chord with me because I know the person of whom you speak. However I am glad to have cleared some things up and I would be more than happy to clear up any other questions on this for you if I can. I will say this, the "edged weapons" were given/issued to the Troopers "in country". Also, it was not just Charlie Co. that got them as the "incident" in question was created by Bravo Co. Also, I can tell you that it was no trophy! It was combat....plain and simple.

11:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Anonymous again....Just wanted to say that I agree with your additional comments and to just to let you all know too, the "Troop" never did get his case of scotch! Also, I think the negative stigma associated with these kinds of combat stories is simply that people don't want to acknowledge the up close, soldier-to-soldier confrontations in modern combat (either today in Iraq and Afghanistan or in Vietnam 30 years ago). They want it to be nice and clean. Anything with brutal aggression (which is, in essence combat) is taboo now in the digital, smart bomb age.
Anyway, thanks again for the corrections.

12:53 PM


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