You are here
Home > Perspective > Once an unrepentant soldier, always a…

Once an unrepentant soldier, always a…

Iraq liberatorA bumper sticker ahead of me read ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE. Next to it was LESS MEAN, LESS LEAN, STILL A MARINE. It got me thinking about the soldiers who come back from war, in light of later revelations of their true brutality. A suppressed investigation in the Mekong Delta 1968-1969, resurfaced in this month’s Nation: “A My Lai a Month.” Operation Speedy Express produced a casualty ration of 40:1, with Vietnamese civilians accounting for an estimated 92%. In view of atrocities which turn out to have been pervasive, what are we to conclude about our veterans? These men are still what? are always what?

The preponderance of our dehumanized ex-soldiers are not in the street committing serial murder and rape, at least not in American streets. The Vietnam vets who suffered are now antiwar. The others unrepentant have been perpetrating the wars that followed –should we be surprised– with the same ferocity and collateral damage? Suppressing the crimes committed in Vietnam, out of concern for the fragile consciences of our vets, has only served to grant license to the war-fueled sadists who still command our inhuman arsenal.

Yesterday, a memorial was held in Missouri for William Doyle, of the infamous Tiger Force unit of the 101st Airborne, who went to his grave bragging about the civilians he’d killed, wishing he’d killed more. The 1965-67 atrocities of the Tiger Force were only revealed in 2004. They were not aberrations but results of the orders the soldiers had been given. This was true about the Free Fire Zones of Operation Speedy Express of the 9th Infantry Division, and for the My Lai raid by the Charlie Company. Few were prosecuted, and fewer punished. Lieutenant Calley served only four months for presiding over the murder of 400 Vietnamese villagers in 1968.

To be fair, each of these examples involved the US Army. The Marines have their own rap-sheet of war crimes that span more engagements than just America’s declared wars, especially in Central and South America. Already Iraq War veterans are trying to confess their deeds in Operation Iraqi Freedom. How many years before journalists are able to report the true crimes of the battle of Fallujah?

Leave a Reply

Top