Library - Investigations
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam
Testimony of Elliot L Meyrowitz (E/4 C/2/502, 1st Bgd, 101st Airborne Div, C Company)
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MEYROWITZ: My name is Elliot Meyrowitz. I served with the 1st Bgd, 101st Airborne Div, C Comp, 502d Infy, from 12-65 to 12-66.
During that time I was a Specialist 4, Class E-4, and I was point man in C Comp. Since my return to the US I have gone to college, graduated ad under the disabled vets retraining program.
While in Vietnam, operating north of Tuy Hue in the IICTZ area in Aug, Sept, and 11-66, I personally have committed the following crimes:
On an occasion in a FREE-FIRE ZONES we proceeded to attack and kill an indiv man only on the assumption that he was a suspect VC. I personally pulled the trigger and killed the man, We had no proof that he was a VC other than the fact that our Sgt told us to go and get him. We proceeded in the same, approx 1 mile, myself, another indiv, and a Sgt with 1 magazine of ammo, 20 rounds, and killed this man without making any attempt to capture him. When we searched the body we found no weapon, which we saw he hadn't to begin with, no weapon, had no info and the only thing he had on was a pair of black pajamas.
In a mathematical society as the US, Vietnam is very easily the greatest indices of mathematical equations, because in Vietnam all people who wore black pajamas are VC.
In the same area, which is a FREE-FIRE ZONES, we entered a vill, we were told it was all VC, all of the people were VC, the villagers were VC, hence we searched, destroyed the vill, burned it down. This was ceased when the Bn cmdr found out about it because it Left too many marks.
But on other occasions when going into a vill, we either roughed the place up by breaking up the thatched huts or destroyed the people's valuables that they kept where they lived.
On another occasion I personally dug up 4 graves which were all counted in the body-count.
On another occasion we captured supposedly suspects, 4 men and 1 woman, the woman was known as a prostitute, the 4 were known as VC, we had no proof of that. They were roughed around, they tried to run away, 1 man was shot, I personally took him and - threw him not on a med-evac chopper, but on a regular chopper. I threw him. That is mishandling POWs of war.
Another instance, in our unit, we placed the ace of spades many times on the bodies of the Vietnamese to signify that they did not reach the final conclusion of their life according to their religion.
Another occasion occurred that I knew about, but did not see, but it was known in the platoon to have occurred, a Sgt who killed an individual civilian in the presence of a Lt by knifing him 16 times.
Another occasion was while searching for water 1 day on the point, I saw a woman, I asked her to come here, I said, "Lade lade" which means "come here" in Vietnamese she attempted to run away, I had my weapon on the automatic, I fired 1 round, it jammed and didn't kill her. But there is no doubt in my mind that I could have killed her as easily as I killed the other civ.
Now briefly I want to say that was a description of my behavior in the years 65-66. But not and explanation of my behavior.
The explanation of my behavior could probably be looked at in terms of things such as the dichotomies that exist in the US in terms of racism. If you are not for me, you are against me, love it or leave it, black-white, etc.
Vietnam and my indiv involvement and participation in war crimes is a logical extension, and inevitable consequence of attitudes that have been developed in the US since the turn of the Revolution in 1776. We have developed a country wherein violence had been the sole means and justification for doing anything, to such an extent that we have reduce all responsibility for our actions to some structure called the system, the establishment or the institutions involved.
Still we have derived a basis of indiv guilt based on an Anglo-Saxon law system that says the indiv is guilty for his actions.
Inherent in this statement is the fact that somewhere along the line the person had an indiv from of reference, within which I could make X essential choice of good or bad, evil, right or wrong. This is a bunch of crap.
In the Amer corporate structure, there is only 1 logical consequence for an indivs behavior and that is success, and success is determined by how much money you can procure, whether legally or illegally. And the power is vested in those people in Congress and upper echelons of the society.
Now I am an average citizen of the USA that was, I would say, unquestionably fully believing in the institutions of the US, allowed to be manipulated so I would carry out policies of some higher order of the US to such an extent that whatever personality or individual processes of decisionmaking that were mine were no longer mine, but diffused to some higher authority or power structure which afforded me certain benefits in society.
Now to show you a brief example, in the US legal system - and I know many congressmen are lawyers - an individual is guilty for individual bankruptcy. But if a corporation made up of individuals declares bankruptcy, the corporation or the entity is responsible for the debts, not the indivs. The same thing here and I have heard it constantly, the fact about individual guilt, individual guilt.
I can say unqualifiedly that I have no question that my behavior in Vietnam was not a product of my individual decision-making but a product of a technologically advanced mass society which wants to produce, and desires conformity to some kind of material reinforcement, and this conformity is based on that assumption that this society can provide materialistic statistics and indices of progress and advancement for the individual and for the society.
The US, and directly related to this is the question of racism, that is another question that has come up constantly. There is no difference in the world between gook, nigger, spic, Jew, kike, or whatever the case may be, and racism. That is it. That is exactly where it is. It is the same thing.
Amer policy in Vietnam that refers to people as Vietnamese, that means you have some respect for their culture. To refer to them as gooks, slopes, or slant eyes is to say there is a degrading meaning, and the only way we can confront their culture and their society on the field of battle is to massively use technological advances to destroy the people.
We are willing to use all the deceits of statistical worth to show we are winning the war. But when it gets down to it, the war still goes on and the people are still killing Amer soldiers.
So the question has to be asked: How persuasive is the NFL and the NV?
So that in conclusion, within a 5-minute limit, I think that the whole question of individual guilt is a misnomer in Amer society. Calley is not guilty of anything other than carrying out the implicit and explicit policies of US Congress, US mili, US corporate structure, the US bureaucracy. Calley never had the opportunity or the framework within which he could make X essential choices or even moral choices, if you want to use that word, in an immoral world.
Never in my time in the mili, my 3 years, of which at 1 time I was going to go to West Point, and I had, I was in West Point Prep Schl for 8 months, was I ever given training on rules of warfare, Nuremberg trials, handling POWs of war or anything like that which SW Morwin said in a poem, about the person that they want to reenlist again.
and, if it came to another war, which no doubt will occur some time in the future of Amer society, because the Congress is not responding to this war, and I doubt seriously in the future if it will respond to another type of war, which will occur and has occurred in the past. For example, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Lebanon, etc, where there has been a concentration of Amer military solely determined by the Executive, so that the only thing I can say is that I am a disgruntled Amer vet, who sees the inevitable consequence of the frustrations and anxieties built up in the hallowed halls of influence in Congress.
I possibly see the only inevitable consequence that the vets may possibly, if continued to be frustrated, pushed into corners of questions of personal guilt, problems of psychiatric questioning, and questions of whether they can find a job in, and blend into Amer society, may very possibly become - and I say this with no doubt in my mind - a rev'ny vanguard.
I don't want to be a harbinger of doom, nor prosecutor of the future, but no longer will we be existing in this society, and no longer will we be fed the crumby C rations of ideological crap.
Hence, the vets, and those people like myself, who have committed war crimes in the name of democracy, morality, Christianity, Judaism, whatever the case may be, were no longer fed the myths of the 19th Century cowboy Amer.
We want people to know this, but sometimes it seems that dissemination of info in the US resides within the hands of the deciding elite. Hence, it may very possibly become necessary in the US that the vets become a proselytizer of a new religion, and what that religion is, I do not know. The only thing I know is that somewhere in the cosmic order, not the 1 made by the technological advanced society of Amer, the natural cosmic order, that the vet has a deep-seated responsibility to assume some necessary point to determine the direction of the US.