Vladimir Dedijer: You served in Vietnam. How long, when did you
went to Vietnam in March of 1964 and returned from Vietnam in
September of 1965.
In which unit did you serve?
was in the United States Army Special Forces, sometimes referred
to as the Green Berets. I essentially had four different jobs
while I was in Vietnam which took me from the northern provinces
south of the 17th parallel to the Ca Mau peninsula.
methods which you discuss are not something peculiar to Special
Forces. This is the standard method of training all young soldiers.
I dont even believe its peculiar to the United States
army; its essentially a method of depersonalization, isolation,
the changing of a value system, the disorganization of an individual,
a reorganization of an individual - and finally with a new value
system he does become a soldier. This is in his first, lets
say, eight weeks of army life. When he goes on to such places
as the United States Army Special Forces or an airborne battalion,
the training, of course, becomes much more severe, and essentially
its an extension of whats taught in basic training,
just more emphasis, more physical. The main purpose, of course,
is to take a man from civilian life, to give him a new set of
values, to make him amenable to do things which normally he would
not allow himself to do or would not be willing to do. In other
words, its a means of giving him a different rationale or
a philosophy. This is all, of course, psychological; its
a method used not only in the army. Its a method used in
prisons. Its a method used in insane asylums.
New York Times of 26 March 1965 published a letter to the Editor
from David Hilding, MD, Yale University School of Medicine, New
Haven, Connecticut, written on 23 March 1965:
Can anyone imagine any greater bitterness than that of the parents
of little children choking away their last few moments of life
after being poisoned by humane nauseating gas spread
by our military leaders?
The weakest, young and old, will be the ones unable to withstand
the shock of this supposedly humane weapon. They will writhe in
horrible cramps until their babies strength is unequal to
the stress and they turn blue and black and die. This may be a
more humane weapon than shells and napalm, but its legacy of bitterness
will be even more lasting.
It seems that Vietnam has been a problem too great for even the
finest of our military thinkers to solve, and they have resorted
to tactics devoid of any hope for anything but hatred. The same
revulsion which many of us felt towards Senator Goldwaters
belligerent attitude has suddenly been earned by the actions of
Horrible drugs, such as these that we are turning over to the
Vietnamese Air Force to spray from helicopters wherever they decide,
probably produce the designed effect in a few persons of the proper
weight, height and general condition; but the dosage for others
will be wrong. Those of us with experience with these dangerous
substances know that lethal consequences result from haphazard
There is absolutely no possibility that everyone sprayed with
the poison gas in the civilian villages of Vietnam escaped permanent
harm. Even the smog of Los Angeles affects a few of the helpless.