Library - Investigations
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam
Testimony of William Toffling (1/20 Bn, 11th Bgd, Americal Div)
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Testimony Of William Toffling 1/20 Bn, 11th Bgd, Americal Div Philadelphia, PE
TOFFLING: My name is William Toffling and I was born and raised in Philadelphia. At my basic training at Ft Bragg, NC, I remember when we were graduating from Basic, our 1st Sgt was telling us that people at the 11th Bgd with our MOS, which was infy, we would probably go to Vietnam and that "you would witness the killing of women and children and probably do this yourself." I also had my AIT at Ft Dix, NJ, and 1 time we had a class on how to interrogate POWs and we were told that if you get 2 POWs and they won't talk, you take them up in a chopper and throw 1 out and the other 1 will talk.
Well, I served with the Americal Div, the I/20, D Comp, Americal Div.
Well, 1 day while moving past the - on the 1st day in the field right off the South China Sea, I remember mama-san and a papa-san were there. Well, they were beaten up and thrown on the ground. I just couldn't believe this.
So I asked someone in my squad, I said, "Why do you do this? I don't understand it." He said, "When you have been here for a while and you see some of your friends killed, you will have the same attitude, " and this was the genl attitude of everyone in the company.
After we moved through that fishing vill we moved west. I was told that this was a FREE-FIRE ZONES and everything moving in this area was considered our enemy and that "you shoot to kill." Well, we spotted some people in the wood - line, and someone opened up with a M-16 on them. Well, no 1 was hit and we moved into the wooded area. Later we started searching out vills. You would go in there and look for papers or anything.
Usually the vill was torn up and people were beaten up while they were interrogated. I remember 1 time we went into a vill and we got some bamboo poles and we turned the pigs loose, and with the sharpened bamboo poles we killed them.
Someone was at the other end of the vill and they were chasing the ducks and the chickens out of the cages, and smashing them.
Well, also we were on a search and destroy mission and we moved into a vill before dark and a VC came out of the vill and he had a pistol belt on him and he was killed, and as they were firing at him there was a papa-san out there laying on his bed and he was also killed. Then we rounded up in the vill all the people, and we huddled them together on the ground.
2 GI's went over and he got this papa-san and he was about 70 years old, and beat him to death. Then several of the hooches were burned. Myself, I have taken part in a burning of vills in the 515 valley, an area just west of LZ Liz.
We would set ourselves in the center of the vill. The squad would be sent out and we would run clover - leaves. Each squad would burn so many vills.
Also I have witnessed the area northeast of Duc Pho.
Now the ground was bulldozed over there. Up here we have the area on the map, we have indicated all the bulldozed over lands. People were relocated then to a compound.
Also I have witnessed the killing of civilians. 1 time we were moving out and it was getting near dark and like from 6 o'clock in the morning it was to 6 o'clock at night, and everything moving outside the vill was considered your enemy.
So when it was getting dark there, we saw a mama-san and 2 children. I heard the interpreter say, "VC. VC." and they started firing at the mama-san and the 2 children and they were shot and later they were moved out.
Well, also I remember 1 time working with the engineers, and as we moved up to set up some booby traps there were 2 civilians, and we beat them up and we went into the day logger at that point.
I remember someone sitting up on a mound shooting at the people in the field, and I saw him kill a papa-san out there. Also I remember sometimes we were put on conveys and trucked up to Red Ball which is Route 1.
Mostly a pacified area. Everyone got on the truck, and they collected rocks and anything they could to throw at the people and as we went through the vills they were throwing the rocks at the civilians.
I remember 1 instance when this happened and I remember it was a mama-san who was hit in the head with a rock and she was killed.
Also I remember 1 time when we were set up in North OP. That is on OP with LZ Liz. We would sit there and people would be grazing their water buffalo and the cattle right outside our perimeter.
Well, we would shoot CS rounds into the buffalo and the cattle and we would also fare M-16 rounds at them. Also, I remember another instance where we moved into a vill, and it was a case where you would move out of the vill like the children would come running up as soon as you move out and they would try to get food from you, so we wired trip flares into the hooch.
Then the children would run across the doorway, and set off the flare. Well, we would set up this booby trap. The kids kept running into the hooches, of course, which would set off the hooch flares and burn the hooch down.
This 1 instance is about the last thing I have to say and it is while we were running patrols every day and we would have night ambushes every night, so you weren't able to pull proper ambushes.
Well, we would leave 1 man or so as guard because of course you weren't getting the proper amount of sleep so you had to have fewer guards so the rest could sleep.
So this 1 day we set up in this vill. I sat there and I fed this family and that night we set up an ambush outside the vill. 1 man was on guard and I was sleeping. Suddenly I heard some Vietnamese people talking. So I crawled over to the person on guard and I looked up and I could see - I don't know if they were NVA-VC, but there was a platoon-sized number of the enemy there.
There were 6 of us there and we had nowhere to go. Well, we radioed in that we were surrounded, and there were these people only 10-15 meters from us.
They were so close we could hear them talking. and I believe they knew we were there.
Well, he told us to blow the mines. Well, we told him that if we blew the mines we would never make it out of there alive. Well, he kept telling us to do it.
Well, so they moved into the area and they lit flares and anyway it turned out that the next morning we were moving toward this vill to see or to seek the weapons or rice and interrogate the people.
Well, there was this kid. I sat there and I had fed the kid all day, and he was walking along at dike, and he said hello to us and while the squad leader, well, he grabbed the kid and started beating him up.
He put a .45 up to his head and then he cocked the hammer and he said, "Was there VC in his vill last night?" and the kid said, "No, there wasn't." Then we beat him up and then I realized that he wasn't going to tell us that his father, that his father was in their vill that night.
Were they going to tell us that their husbands were there?
That's all I have to say.
DELLUMS: Thank you very much.