poems what they say letters who he is




Testimony and Questioning
Vladimir Dedijer: You served in Vietnam. How long, when did you go?

I went to Vietnam in March of 1964 and returned from Vietnam in September of 1965.

Dedijer: In which unit did you serve?

I 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.

These methods which you discuss are not something peculiar to Special Forces. This is the standard method of training all young soldiers. I don’t even believe it’s peculiar to the United States army; it’s 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, let’s 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 it’s an extension of what’s 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, it’s a means of giving him a different rationale or a philosophy. This is all, of course, psychological; it’s a method used not only in the army. It’s a method used in prisons. It’s a method used in insane asylums.


The 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 Goldwater’s belligerent attitude has suddenly been earned by the actions of the Administration.
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 administration.
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.