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Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam

Testimony of John Beitzel (1/20, D Comp, with Bgd, Americal Div)

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Dellums (House of Representatives) War Crimes Hearings Wednesday, 4-28-71, Washg'tn, DC Testimony Of John Beitzel 1/20, D Comp, with Bgd, Americal Div Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

BEITZEL: My name is John Beitzel and I was in D Comp and we were working in support of Echo Company. I would just like to corroborate the testimony that he gave. We were, for some reason, on the same frequency at that time.

Our radio was on the same frequency as Echo Company and I remember distinctly hearing a body-count of 13.

Later on 1 of our platoons - I think the 1st Platoon - they went in support of E-Company and they went in and they saw what happened and they called back over the radio that E-Company, they could confirm the body-count that they gave.

They said there were 9 women, 3 children and a baby. Now from what Dan Notley said, I believe they saw only 1 section of the group of people that were killed. I distinctly remember it was around 4-18. That's all I can say. We were in contact with the company. We were in the same area. We were about 3,000 meters away though. We were in radio contact with them. Most of our company knew about the incident. That's all.

DELLUMS: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

CONYERS: Can I ask a question?

DELLUMS: Yes, Mr Conyers.

CONYERS: Mr Beitzel, you heard Dan Notley's statement here today?

BEITZEL: Yes, I did.

CONYERS: Is there any part of it about which you have personal knowledge that you think may be such that it would be in error, that you disagree with part of his statement or there is a question?

BEITZEL: The only thing I remember afterwards was that there was a debate as to whether they called in artillery in on the vill and whether it was the artillery that killed the civilians or whether it was the squad that killed the civilians, as though the artillery, you know, was less of a crime or something. But we knew about it. I mean, everything that he said as far as my knowledge was concerned was correct.

CONYERS: The massacre, the deaths that resulted occurred from weapon fire from Amer soldiers?

BEITZEL: Well, what I am saying is later on there was a debate in our company whether it was artillery or was it the squad that had done it. Because we were not right there. So we didn't know what actually happened.

CONYERS: Okay.

BEITZEL: We heard the body-count on the radio. We were on the same frequency.

DELLUMS: Thank you. There have been some requests to have Mr Notley go back through this incident 1 more time, but - I frankly am not disposed to ask you to do that. I think it much too painful for you to even have to account this incident the 1st time. I have tried to sit here for 2 1/2 days of hearings so far.

As everybody knows, I think you know where I am on the war, and the insanity of it. I have tried to sit here as an objective chmn, but it seems to me that to look at this table and these young people, and they haven't been on this earth very long, they're not yet I believe 23 years old as human beings. My question is, what the hell is this country doing to young people to train them to go out and kill other innocent people? The question is, what the hell is wrong with this country? What is wrong with the military establishment? The Administration? and the representatives to the US Congress? and other people who are responsible for involvement in Indochina who haven't stood up and said 1 damn thing about the fact that we are sending 1,000's of young people to SEA to get killed, or be killed, because many of them don't understand and don't desire involvement in it. I think it is cruel and shocking and horrible that we find 435 congressmen in the USA with only a handful of them having the guts to stand up and say the involvement in Indochina is insane.

What do we care about our young people when we send them to go to SEA and then have the self-righteous guts to get up on the floor and vote down $750 million in revenue for education? How patronizing can the leadership of this country be when it says that Amer is wonderful and we are concerned about the future of this nation, and we don't give a damn about our young people except how much can we find, how many rounds can they pump into innocent men, women and children?

I think it is shocking and insane. The question everyone in Amer ought to raise is, where are the 435 congressmen who sit around with political ambitions positioning themselves for reflection? People involved on ego trips and personal aggrandizement. They couldn't care less except for the votes.

I am very sorry, but I tried desperately, I did not want to use this chair as a platform, but when you hear the young people come forward and give these horrible stories, then I think the establishment has to be challenged and challenged very fundamentally. and those petty personalities, and those mediocres who call themselves US congressmen ought to get off their behinds and get us out of Indochina.

(applause) Well, we have 2 people now who will testify before the Committee.

I might add 1 other thing, that we have a time factor here, But I don't care about the time factor this morning. a would like to say to you young men that we will sit here no matter what rules of the House might be that we will break, and we will sit here until you have said what you have to say and the Amer people hear you. I don't give a damn what the leadership of this Congress does about it because I think they have been too weak - kneed about our involvement in Indochina in the 1st place and we will be here all day if necessary.

(applause) Our next 2 witnesses will be 1st, Mr Guadalupe G Villarreal and Daniel Barnes. Mr Villarreal.

 

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