Library - Investigations
Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam
Testimony of Randy Floyd (Capt USMC, VMA AW 533, Mag 12, 1st Marine Air Wing)
back to contents
Dellums (House of Representatives) War Crimes Hearings Thursday, 4-29-71, Washg'tn, DC Testimony Of Randy Floyd Capt USMC, VMA AW 533, Mag 12, 1st Marine Air Wing Pilot of an A6-A Intruder, Arlington, TX
FLOYD: My name is Randy Floyd. I was a former Marine bomber and fighter pilot. I now live in Arlington, TX, where I attend the Univ'y of TX at Arlington. Until just a few days ago I was active in the Marine Reserves and I was drilling out at the Naval Air Station in Dallas.
I enlisted in the USMC in 7-64, immediately after graduating from high schl. I received my wings and was commissioned and got married in 10-66. My next 14 months were spent at the USMC station at Cherry Point, NC, training in the A6-A Intruder jet bomber, prior to going to Vietnam.
The primary objective of this training was to increase each pilot's bombing accuracy and improve his delivery techniques for radar computerized bombing and visual bombing.
Never during the course of my enlisted service in boot camp and in infy training nor during any cadet days in flight training nor as an officer did I receive any instruction regarding the Hague or Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, or the treatment of POWs.
In boot camp and in flight training I was given extensive instructions on the code of conduct which says briefly that I should never surrender myself or those under me as long as we had the means to resist. lf I was captured, I was to give only my name, rank, serial number and date of birth. It was my duty if captured to try to escape.
Much was made of the traitorist Amer POWs in Korea, who were "sinisterly brainwashed by those vicious Korean Commies." A trainee is taught to fear and hate all Asians because he is told they are cruel and have no regard for human are. We were told of innumerable tortures our Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese enemies used on POWs. We were shown booby traps and told that every Vietnamese, regardless of sex or age, was our potential killer, which amounted to saying that all Vietnamese were our enemies.
Throughout my military life unquestioning immediate obedience to all orders given me was pounded into my head. There was never a distinction drawn between what constituted a legal or illegal order.
As all vets know, military training is very repetitive, but not once was I told to be aware of the legality of orders. Just as many Amers find it difficult to believe that deliberate lies could emanate from the White House or the Pentagon, most soldiers can't conceive of an illegal order. "My country right or wrong" has been pablum since grade schl.
In 2-68 I was sent to Vietnam and was assigned as a squadron pilot to Marine Attack All Weather Squadron 533, Marine Air Group 12, at Chu Lai, Vietnam.
while there I flew 97 combat missions in the A6-A. The A6-A is a 2-crew member bomber aircraft it has 2 engines, its primary mission is radar computerized bombing, and a secondary mission of visual bombing for close air support.
37 of these missions were flown over NV. 4 were flown over Laos, and 56 over I Corps in RVN.
The bulk of my missions over RVN consisted of TPQs and Close Air Support [CAS]'s. TPQs were strato-level ground radar controlled by TPQ-10 radar. On a TPQ I would fly at 20,000 feet with a radarman giving me heading and airspeed instructions. His computer would tell him when to have me drop my bombs. I could never see what I was hitting. The radarman would then read us a set of coordinates, where the bombs should have fallen, and we would take these back and give these to the debriefer after the hop.
Normally we never checked a map to see where they landed. and small variations in airspeed or small errors in his timing in telling me when to drop or my delay could cause a great error in where the bombs hit.
It was not uncommon also to have a section of A6's carrying 56 500lb bombs, to drop these on a suspected sniper. It was kind of a standard joke. This was in CAS and TPQs.
DELLUMS: Pardon me. To drop all 56 bombs on 1 sniper?
FLOYD: Yes. This type of strato-level bombing is against the Nuremberg Principles, which were created after WWII when Dresden was destroyed, I believe, for no militarily significant target.
CAS missions were visual bombing directed by a forward air controller, usually airborne, against enemy forces who were in contact with friendly forces.
The tactical air controller airborne would normally fare a smoke rocket as close to the enemy position as possible, then direct placement of our bombs in relation to the smoke. 1 of the few CAS targets I could physically see was a fairly large vill 5 miles northeast of Dang Ha, just south of the DMZ. The controller told me and my wingman that NVA gunners were atop the 3 tallest buildings in the center of town. He and ARVN forces were 600 meters away from the target and they had USMC advisers with them, so to put on a good show for the Marines.
Between the 2 A6s we had 56 500lb bombs. We put approx 40 into the vill, dropping 4-6 at a time. Civilians were still in the town, most probably, in their shelters. We destroyed the vill.
Another type of mission I flew was called euphemistically Armed Recon, because it went into Laos. There was no recon to it was simply a bombing mission. Its objectives were merely to destroy any supplies, convoys, troops or other living things along and in an area around Route 9 so'east of Khe Sahn into Laos up to Tchepong. It was in 2-68. It was as much of a recon as many of our bombing missions in NV are now. It was not at all recon. I was told that all of this area was NV controlled, so anything was fair game. It was in effect a free drop zone.
DELLUMS: Pardon me. You mentioned that back in '68 when you flew bombing missions in Laos... Was this as far as you know official policy to fly bombing missions into Laos in 68?
FLOYD: Yes, it was. I mean, this was our directed mission. We would load up again with a normal load of 28 500lb bombs or 27 150lb bombs, or 4-5 2,000lb bombs, and we were sent into the area and our primary mission was to look for convoys or virtually any sign of life.
There were also airborne tracks there and aircraft with infrared and sniffer gear who would try to pinpoint some kind of "enemy." and many times this type of gear does not distinguish between any living thing, it picks up odors or some kind of movement. So we would simply destroy whatever was there.
DELLUMS: 1 other question. You mentioned the term "euphemistically called armed reconnaissance." Normally isn't armed reconnaissance when you are on a reconnaissance patrol and receive fire, that you put the fire back?
FLOYD: That is the way I would define it.
DELLUMS: You said this was not a reconnaissance mission back in '68 when you were bombing in Laos, that these were specifically bombing raids in Laos?
FLOYD: Yes. Our aircraft was not a recon aircraft. and we were equipped with full bomb loads and we never came without bombs. We were directed to bomb these targets. So I assume that the reason they called them armed recon was simply again so they could play semantic games and say we were not bombing, we were just running recon fights over Laos.
DELLUMS: Do you have any idea whether the Amer Ambassador knew there were bombing raids taking place in Laos?
FLOYD: I don't have direct knowledge whether he knew it or not. I assume he had full military briefings. After each hop we would go back and write up where we dropped the bombs. So they knew where the bombs were going. Virtually all of NV was a free drop zone. There were no targets forbidden to us in our target areas, which was usually between the I7th and I 8th parallel.
NV was divided up into what are called route packages and each route package is simply a target area. and they went from Route Package I between the I 7th and I 8th parallel up to Route Package 6 Alpha and Bravo around Hanoi.
Rolling Thunders and Tally Has were the 2 types of missions flown by my squadron in NV. Both were always at night, because daylight flights of this type were impossible.
Rolling Thunder was a low-level flight into mid and upper regions of NV, against fixed targets such as a bridge, a power plant, railroad yards, or radio stations. Many of these targets were in civilian and residential areas.
Tally Ho, like a Rolling Thunder, was a flight radar bombing strike. The target was between the I7th and 18th parallel. The primary objective was to destroy all supply traffic.
The A6 radar picks up radar significant moving targets such as trucks, cars, buses, trains, barges, even bicycles if they had enough metal to be radar significant. Normally we could roam the entire route package looking for movers, what were called movers. Sometimes I would be restricted to a smaller area in Route Pack I, because of other US aircraft working in areas around Route Pack I.
Secondary targets when we found no movers were targets that were hit night after night. These are the same assigned targets. We would be assigned 1 secondary target to hit, if we found no movers. This might be a suspected truck park which had been hit for a month of nights, or it might be a ferry crossing, or it might be a road or a gun emplacement. If we found we had any ordnance left or we tried to drop it and the ordnance did not drop, malfunctioned, there was an ordnance drop zone 50 miles out to sea, but this was rarely used. Primarily it was used when you had ordnance that hung up and you wanted to go out and jettison it, But if you found no movers, and you had bombs left after hitting the secondary target or something, or if you just felt like hitting something else, you would go and drop the bombs somewhere else, wherever you liked in NV, in the target area.
Many times a lot of the pilots would drop on gun emplacements that they knew where the hot areas were, so they could stand off and radar bomb these areas, or there was an airfield at Dong Hoi, which was the largest city between the 17th and 18th parallel, and they would bomb that airfield repeatedly.
They bombed the town of Dong Hoa whenever we found movers in the town, we went ahead and bombed them there also.
So this in essence was bombing nonmilitary targets. It was simply "don't waste ordnance," just drop it in NV, that was only logical.
DELLUMS: So any left - over bombs, you bombed nonstrategic nonmilitary targets with?
FLOYD: You bombed whatever you felt like basically.
DELLUMS: Was there a policy that you were not to return with any bombs?
FLOYD: Right, we couldn't come back and land with bombs except - under normal conditions we could do it, but it was not a safe thing to do ordinarily. So unless the bomb simply would not come off, we would get rid of them normally in NV. All ordnance drops were reported up the chain of cmnd by debriefs after every hop. So although there were no written orders to bomb civilians, the tacit approval of the 1st Marine Air Wing and the 7th Air Force Hqs who sent down fragmentary orders giving us our mission had the effect of promulgating these atrocities as policy.
Most of the men I knew in Vietnam didn't really care about the politics or policies of the war. They simply wanted to survive their tour in Indochina and go home and get out of the Service.
The most important goal of the field grade officers and above was to further their military career. This was done in several ways. It was act up so that most field grade officers, especially LT Col and above, would get some kind of cmnd billet while in Vietnam. Thus leadership and experience were not prerequisites for cmnd. They simply tried to get everyone a cmnd of some sort.
Also most field grade officers were assured of getting some kind of award for valor, whether they had earned it or not.
A vast number of the awards were jokes. Good statistics was another way to make a unit cmdr look good. The infy had their body-counts, and the Air Wing had the number of sorties flown, tons of bombs dropped, and hours flown. It is all very like a game.
I was a Marine pilot and a good 1. I was also an unwitting pawn of my govt's inhuman imperialistic policy in SEA. For my part in this war against the Vietnamese and Laotian people I am ashamed and sorry. and I am revolted by my govt which commits genocide because it is good business.
The policies and laws of our country must be changed, never again to allow property rights to be held above human rights.
DELLUMS: a would like to thank you very much for the courage of your testimony and the preparation and details. We are deeply appreciative of the fact that you came forward today. I have 1 question before I turn it over to the panel. In 3-68 Pres Johnson publicly declared a halt to the bombing of NV.
Did you ever fly any bombing missions after 3-68 into NV?
FLOYD: Yes, sir. What I think you are talking about, we had a number of inexperienced crews come into my squadron. So we no longer flew Rolling Thunders, which were supposedly the hottest missions and the most dangerous.
Okay, we were scheduled to resume Rolling Thunders on 4-1-68. and the bombing pause down to the 20th parallel came on 3-31, the day before. So after that we were restricted to between the 17th and 18th parallel with the USAF. That was an USAF and USMC area. The Navy had between the 18th and 19th. and supposedly no 1 was bombing between the 19th and 20th. I don't know for sure. Another thing, after I got back, I came home I had a short tour of 5 months, I was injured and I got back to Cherry Point and was an instructor, I believe sometime in the fall of '68 people were coming back from Vietnam saying that the bulk of their missions were being flown into Laos. The bulk of the A6 squadron missions were being flown into Laos. and this again amounted to armed recon, where they were simply bombing anything and everything, many times blowing the tops off of hills, trying to blow roads up or something, again most of the sorties were into Laos.
DELLUMS: Thank you. Before I turn the floor over to Congressmen Mikva, I would like to introduce my distinguished colleague from Wisconsin, Congressmen Bob Kastenmeier, on my far right. Congressmen Mikva.
MIKVA: Capt, you enlisted in the USMC in '66?
FLOYD: Yes, I did.
MIKVA: How Long a tour did you have?
FLOYD: It was a 3-year tour.
MIKVA: At the time you went into the USMC, it was your choice, I presume.
You decided that is where you wanted to be, is that correct?
FLOYD: Yes. I enlisted a month after I graduated from high schl. I didn't know what a wanted to do in college, or study, so I decided to do this. I enlisted with a friend of mine on the buddy system, he was going in and more or less talked me into it.
MIKVA: Had you at that time ever given any thought to a USMC career?
FLOYD: No, not really. I never was mili-oriented.
MIKVA: When you received your wings, how long after that before you went to SEA?
FLOYD: I received my wings in 10-66, and I went to Vietnam in 2-68.
MIKVA: Between '66 and '68 you were here in this country?
FLOYD: Yes. I had probably a total of about 45-50 days leave at the beginning and the end of that period of time. and the rest of it was spent at Cherry Point, NC, where I was transitioning to the A6-A and training in the A6.
MIKVA: You mentioned something about Nuremberg and I didn't catch it. Was anything ever said about Nuremberg during your career in an official way?
FLOYD: I mentioned in the testimony that we were never instructed or it was never even discussed in any formal way, none of the conventions of war, Geneva, The Hague, or Nuremberg. Nothing was ever discussed. The only thing relating to rules of war was the Code of Conduct, which came out after the Korean War when we had so many defectors. and this was hit hard, both in boot camp and in flight training.
MIKVA: When a was in the Air Corps we used to have a course called survival training, which had to do with what happened if you were shot down behind the lines and they would give you some description of the people. What kind of description did you get, or was there something similar to that given you during training?
FLOYD: A lot of the pilots got survival training. The only survival training I received was in preflight, which is the 12 weeks of academic study prior to starting flying. We had about a 3-day survival trip after that, which was very basic and rudimentary. There was no discussion of the Vietnamese people. I would say probably 2/3ds of the pilots or less than half, about half, received some kind of survival schl, about a week's schl, prior to going to SEA. and then Probably another quarter of the people received some kind of survival schl while in SEA. They went to the North of Japan or the Philippines. I don't know. I didn't go to those schls.
MIKVA: and there were no manuals issued which described the NV people?
FLOYD: No, we were given no formal training as to what the Vietnamese people were like, what kind of culture they had or anything. So there was no way for me to identify with them as people, because I knew nothing about them, nothing at all.
ABOUREZKI: You made a statement that on these bombing runs into Laos, you called them armed recon, but they were actually bombing runs, and your mission was to destroy supplies, enemy soldiers, supply routes, and you said other living things. More specifically, what do you mean by other living things?
FLOYD: Basically I said this was an NVA - controlled area, so any cattle you saw there, I bombed cattle 1 time on a bridge, anything living you could bomb. Many times we would go out and most of our missions were at night. 1 time I had 1 in the daylight, but most of them were at night. So you would find a campfire, something like that, and you would bomb those.
In reading more about it after I came back and thinking about it, probably the campfires were civilians, because the NVA had better sense than to light a campfire when there was constant aircraft overhead, bombing missions. 24 hours a day there were aircraft scheduled for all parts of the area, so they wouldn't have lit campfires.
ABOUREZKI: So far as you know and from what you were told by your superiors in the USMC, the areas you were sent to bomb were mostly enemy areas, is that right? Were they were patrolled by enemy troops?
FLOYD: Yes, most of the areas were, like NV was all enemy territory
ABOUREZKI: I am referring to Laos specifically now.
FLOYD: well, the area we had in Laos was NVA controlled. this was the area south, probably 15-20 miles so'east of Khe Sahn, around Route 9, into Laos, up to Tchepong. and this was the area of the a0 Chi Minh trail, this was all NVA controlled.
ABOUREZKI: were you given any info about the possibility of Laos, Laotian civilians being in that area?
FLOYD: No, this was never discussed.
ABOUREZKI: Whether there were or weren't any, it wasn't discussed?
FLOYD: Right. It was just never brought up.
KASTENMEIER: I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Congressmen Dellums on the very important hearings as well as to say I was deeply impressed by Floyd's testimony. I have really just 1 question.
In terms of the view expressed in the conclusion of your remarks, was this a point of view you held in 1968 at the time you were in Indochina, or was this an attitude or point of view which developed subsequently?
I ask the question to understand whether you felt confronted by the same perhaps moral dilemma then.
FLOYD: No, I don't think I was confronted with it. Perhaps it was kind of a self-defense mechanism, or whatever. But I came out of a conservative anti-Communist oriented type high schl. and I had no exposure to any other type of political thought. and I went through the military indoctrination, we saw all of the anti-Communist films, all of the glorious WWII and Korean films.
Really, an alternative to what I was doing simply did not occur to me, because to go to jail, to refuse to go to Vietnam, or to avoid the draft, something like this, or desert, would have been an atrocious crime to me.
While I was in Vietnam I remember I think probably only 1 other individual and I who ever discussed Vietnam, and I didn't know that much about it, I didn't know historically about it, I didn't know the policies, and probably the extent of my feelings at that time were that Ho Chi Minh was a nat'list leader. I think by this time the spectre of Communism didn't really bother me that much. and I felt that the people would be much better off under him, under his regime, regardless of whether it was a Communist regime or not, than under the Saigon govt, which seemed to be simply an economic power, who had nothing in common with the people of Vietnam. and that is right there I guess the extent, it is where I stopped thinking.
CONYERS: What do the initials CBU stand for?
FLOYD: Cluster bomb units. and we used these while I was there only in NV. and these are primarily an anti-personnel weapon. It is a little larger than say a 500lb bomb, and you drop it, and you compute your airspeed and so forth, and the altitude you must drop it from and say about 2,000 feet, the cannister blows open and a couple 100 little bomblets about this big spew out and they have little aerodynamic grooves on them and they start to turn. After so many revolutions they arm. and they are strictly anti-personnel. We used them against truck convoys and everything else, because someone seemed to think they worked.
These things are designed so that when they hit and explode, they come apart in tiny jagged fragments that when they enter the body, it darts around, tearing up the inside of a person, or tearing up whatever it enters. and these CBUs have an automatic assumed 10% dud rate. So we dropped a don't know how many of these things up there, probably innumerable. Then you figure there is 20-30 bomblets out of each cannister that are still alive that someone will step on, pick up, and blow a hand off and so forth. We used mines also and delayed-action bombs. We would seed the rivers of NV with these and they would go off at some time later to catch any traffic that was there when we weren't bombing. We would also seed roads with delayed-action bombs.
CONYERS: I merely want to commend you. I don't know if you are doing more good for this Committee than we are doing for you or all of us together perhaps may ultimately be considered as doing a service for our country in helping to raise the level of understanding about what it is we are doing in the war in Vietnam. I thank you for coming here.
DELLUMS: Floyd, you mentioned that bombing raids ostensibly are directed against military targets and that you flew several computerized bombing raids. and you also mentioned that slight deviations in speed, wind, human frailties, could produce significant deviations from the target, which means that the bombings that were computerized against significant military facilities could have ended up killing many innocent people in and around the area. lf that is true, was there ever any effort on the part of the cmnd, the higher-echelon officers, to discuss the reality of the policy that they had established? 1 level policy was established and you indicated that the reality was something different. Was there ever any discussion of these problems or was it just considered to be standard operating procedure to function the way you described it?
FLOYD: No, I don't think there was any great deal of discussion about the policies. The only discussions that would come down, or that we would have ourselves would be when we were assigned specific targets by the 7th USAF.
and there seemed to be a kind of rivalry between the USMC and the USAF in targeting. When the A6 1st came to Vietnam, it was probably, outside of the B52, the most sophisticated bombing aircraft we have and the most accurate. and it had an inherent error of 600 feet. You can get closer than that with a very good BN, a very good peaked-up system. and many times you get farther than that away.
The USAF had the F-105s. I talked to USAF personnel who worked at 7th USAF Hqs, who said there was a kind of study going on, as far as comparison of the 2. and the F-105 I think had an inherent error above 1500 feet.
Initially they would give us targets which were nonradar significant to hit, which were sheer stupidity, because we were a radar bomber going at night, and if we couldn't pick something up on radar we couldn't hit it, but the bombs were dropped anyway, because once you release the bombs, we were already at maximum power, and many times evading flak, you hit your initial point, turn into your target, and say it is 8 miles, well, 4 miles from the target or 5 miles it may get so heavy, you will go ahead and drop the bombs and go.
Normally the system set up with bombardier-navigator had into the computer, we had a computer system that also aided in navigation and a dopler. and if he made a mistake there, there is another chance of error. But once all of this was done, and we had the computer into an attack stage, all I had to do was pull the commit trigger on the stick and follow the pathway up here that the computer was presenting me on my little TV set, and whenever the computer said it was time, it released the bombs and then we could shut the drops and go. But that was the only discussion I can think of as far as policy. where was discussion of the stupidity of some of the policies, assigning targets, this type of thing.
DELLUMS: On behalf of myself and the members of the Committee, I would like to thank you very much for coming forward and I commend you on your courage.
I think your testimony has been extremely clear. I appreciate the preparation and extremely detailed presentation. My hope is your testimony will be heard at some point in time when we might have official hearings. I thank you very much.
FLOYD: I thank you for listening. after lobbying certain congressmen, 1 begins to get a little frustrated that anyone on the Hill will listen at all.
DELLUMS: Most of us feel the same frustration, but we keep on going.