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A Letter to Oliver StoneWe understand there may be a movie in the works regarding the events of 1968 at My Lai, RVN, or as we of the 11th LIB know it... Pinkville. There has been much reported and written over the years that has given VN vets in general, and we of the 11th in particular, a negative face; one we do not deserve. Having been a member of the 4th Bn/3rd infantry Regiment, I can attest to having been called a 'baby killer' based entirely on that unit association as well as just being a VN vet. Perhaps you experienced the same?
I am hoping that your movie will not just be one more expose` that will further tarnish our unit and the men who served. There would be no purpose for yet another sensationalist report. I served as a medic and later, beginning in March 68, as a casualty reporter for our battalion and Task Force Barker. As casualty Reporter it was my duty to assess, evaluate and interview the wounded, assess and evaluate the cause of death for our KIA, and report to S-2.
I dealt with many of our troops who had been wounded or killed in and around My Lai. Many of these men were known to me from our days of training at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.Those who were not severely wounded were highly agitated. Through questioning I was able to extract the cause of their frustration. The stories were much the same: approach the 'ville ... take SAF and mine casualties. Enter the 'ville to be told, 'No VC-No VC'. Leaving, they often took more casualties. Batangan Peninsula was said to be a hot bed of NVA and VC activity. What I witnessed was a breakdown in the psychological, cultural, and military discipline as these men returned repeatedly to the hornets' nest of death and mayhem.
I do not condone what happened, but I do understand somewhat the emotional and mental breakdown that may have exploded into a killing fury in the absence of leadership. I hope that your movie will take this approach, in part, by exposing these elements of combat and the effect on the psyche. My Lai was not the only horror of that war and American troops were not the only actors. I recall a night when the ER was filled with wounded and GR with dead. Many had had their genitals cut away and stuffed into their mouths.I trust your movie will be fair and accurate ... and informative in a non-judgemental way.
R. Raitano, RVN 1967-68
Foxtrot Sounds OffMy name is Tom Skiens. I am the web master of the 11th LIB site and buffgrunt.com. I sailed to Nam aboard the USS General Gordon and was with C 4/3 19 clicks, (approx.12 miles ) north of LZ Buff on march 16, 1968. I address these comments to the men of C 1/20 and B 4/3 on the possibility of a Stone movie.
If you killed or raped that day then bunker up big time and remain in the shadows. Most people in America and the world would never understand. They only want to judge and condemn. Most of them have never lived out of a rucksack or thrown the body parts of a buddy on a poncho and dragged it to a chopper. It would do no good to step forward now some 40 years later and point the finger at yourself as if to say, "I shot an unarmed Gook and raped a baby". No one needs to know that now. God knows you have suffered enough. We are our own worst critics. We eat bullets to end our pain. We destroy our own lives and laugh at those who suggest we take care of ourselves.
So if you, "got some", keep it to yourself so some legal freak don't get a hard on. If you were there but did not rape or kill and simply did your job, then speak up so America can learn what you went through march 1968.
I just discovered your site. You mentioned My Lai. I was assigned to the 52d MI Det, 11th LIB, Americal and I agree with what you wrote. LT "Bull",real name omitted for reasons of privacy, was the only member from the 52d Military intelligence Detachment who was involved at My Lai. I went down to IPW expecting to help out with interrogation as we were expecting some prisoners. The huey landed near the cage and Bull came towards me. I said, "Bull where's the prisoners?" He stated that the village was abandoned and empty, however he looked shocked and traumatized when I said, "you gotta be kidding me!" He said, "No, that's the truth, it was empty." He walked around like a zombie appearing dazed. I found out later in CONUS about what really occurred at My Lai. Bull never said another word about My Lai throughout our tour.
While still at Schoffield Barracks, Bull temporarily ran our supply in the quad that LT Calley controlled. LT Calley kicked my bunk and another guy's bunk over on a Saturday morning when I was asleep. He left with CPT Medina saying he would return in 5 minutes for a full inspection. When he returned in a rage with Medina observing his antics he got in my face assuming I was a private and called me "Private". I told Calley, "Get in my face again and your going over the baloney!" Medina just stared and never said a word. Calley went to Maj. Fletcher at 52d Military intellegance and complained about me telling him what he could do to himself. I never saw Calley again after Maj. Fletcher informed the young LT. that not only did he not have any authority over me but that I outranked him.
I was actually a Spec 5, but Maj. Fletcher told him I was a confidential informant and said my title was "Mr." When Calley demanded to know what my rank really was Maj. Fletcher told him he could not under AR-381-101 reveal my rank to him or to CPT Medina. Calley was infuriated and wouldn't give up. Maj. Fletcher then told him that he needed to co-operate with CPT Smith and not to interfere with his duties or reveal my rank to anyone.
I wish today that I had tossed Calley over that balconey. I never saw him again in Vietnam, however, I did go to CPT Medina for some support assistance, but he couldn't offer me any men because he had them on an operation at My Lai. No one said anything. I felt betrayed and shamed when I found out about My Lai after returning home. I read that Bull took the "Fifth". I also heard from LT Greime, 52d MI, about a year ago that Bull had a lot of children of his own (9?) and that he has suffered because of My Lai. He has never been quite the same sense March 16th 1968.
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