Library - Investigations

Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam

Testimony of Greg Hayward (Capt. U.S. Army West Point, Class of 1964)

back to contents

SEIBERLING: Do you have any evidence that this was so widespread that it must have been known to people at all levels of command?

JOHNSON: I don't have any specific evidence except my 6 months in the infantry div, an American unit, and the disdain and disgust of the Vietnamese was extremely widespread there.

SEIBERLING: Thank you. I think your statement has been very, very helpful.

DELLUMS: 1 of my colleagues here has asked that I ask you to clarify 1 particular point. In your original testimony you related an incident of a person being beaten and shot. Can you tell me whether he was beaten and shot by South Vietnamese or American forces?

JOHNSON: He was beaten and shot by the South Vietnamese in my presence and the presence of another American.

DELLUMS: Do you think it would serve any purpose to prosecute high-ranking military personnel and civilian leaders for war crimes in Southeast Asia?

JOHNSON: If we are going to prosecute LT Calley, then I think we ought to prosecute a number of generals and a number of civilians. I think LT Calley should be freed and that a massive investigation into the institutional causes that in my judgment led to My Lai is the only solution. Retribution is no answer. Again the idea of guilt, there were so many GIs that served in Vietnam, that they were guilty on their part is kind of absurd because they never thought about guilt, anything like that. They just did what they were told in Vietnam, and they followed the policy set at the highest level.

I think the solution is the kind of thing we are embarked on. I think I would like to see someone introduce legislation calling for amnesty for everyone and then a full open inquiry by the entire Joint Congress of War Crimes, war crime responsibility.

Dellums: Thank you.

CONYERS: That is a critical point, and I am glad the captain made it, because I am coming to understand the complexities of this problem a little more deeply, that is to say, that if we are to feel that every--of course, everyone who commits a crime, it doesn't matter what your state of mind is when you commit it, but at the same time we are to really get at the bottom of this problem, it can't be a matter of trying to determine who in the service is responsible for which acts. I think that the notion that has been put forward here in this gentleman's statement, the 1st time I have heard it, that there ought to be some kind of amnesty so that everyone can come forward and give us the kind of records so that we can go to the institutional charter of the problem that is under examination by your Committee would begin to make sense. It is complex. We are certainly not trying to open this up to prosecute anyone. At the same time, we have got to hear about crimes so that we can assess what their relationship is to what is going on in Vietnam and in America.

So, I welcome the captain's suggestion on this point.

DELLUMS: Thank you, Congressman.

SEIBERLING: May I be permitted to comment on that, Mr Chairman?

DELLUMS: Yes, I would like both Cngwmn Abzug and you to make a brief comment on that.

SEIBERLING: I just want to say it is even more complicated than that, because, as I understand internat'l law, it is beyond the power of the US to waive the provisions of the laws of nations which make it a crime to execute and maltreat civilians. I am not even sure we can declare amnesty even a we wanted to. It may, as a practical matter, be possible because I find it difficult to conceive of anyone other than American courts ever bring Americans to trial in such cases, and yet from a legal standpoint, I don't think we could take that position. So, it is an extremely complicated situation. I just make that point for the record.

DELLUMS: Cngwmn Abzug?

ABZUG: Many people agree that the nature of the war in Vietnam itself is war against the people of Vietnam, and insofar as that is so that the policy of goV't, our government, and the policy of command has been essentially to wipe out the people in Vietnam. However, Captain, within that you have testified and others have testitied here and elsewhere of other people killing POWs and many of the people who have testitied have not testified that they have killed POW's. Within the acts of individuals, there are moral judgments that are made. I wonder, because I think you and I have discussed this before at a press conferences announcing these hearings, I wonder if you, in the course of your service, made any moral judgment to kill innocent children, women, old men, as did LT Calley?

JOHNSON: My hands are clean, you see, because I had a radio and could call in napalm strikes.

ABZUG: You mean you instructed other people to do it?

JOHNSON: I just called in air artillery stakes and they did it. That was part of the policy.

ABZUG: You see, I am not in complete agreement with you. I think that we a know that those responsible for killing innocent civilians probably go up very high on the ladder of the chain of command, but in the testimony and in the activity of men in the Army are those who made a moral judgment to kill innocent victims, and those who made a moral judgment not to, and I don't quite understand whether you treat all acts or not all acts the same or whether you are suggesting that we do apparently? Is that your recommendation?

JOHNSON: I think, given the framework of genocide in Indochina, where we have killed millions of Vietnamese and there are 5 million refugees, it is somewhat absurd to focus on the guilt of any particular individual. When 1 talks about guilt and innocence, it must be from a kind of moral civil righteous position, perhaps with a lack of understanding of the atmosphere that exists, the moral America of reference that exists in Vietnam, and that if 1 can say waste dinks, there no longer is a moral America of reference, there is no longer a moral judgment. If we prosecute LT Calley and we are vigorous about that, we must be just as vigorous about prosecuting Colonel Patton, now General Patton, and from the testimony of the following West Pointers, we must prosecute 2 other generals. I don't hear the same outrage about their conduct. Although they have generated policies which have resulted in de facto genocide, I don't hear the outrage about bringing those men to justice and that I hear about LT Calley and how awful he is.

I see LT Calley as the ultimate institutional victim in this country, the man who thought the whole methodology hook, line and sinker--the man who believed that the only good gook was a dead gook.

ABZUG: There are many who believe that the generals you mentioned and officers should be prosecuted. Would you oppose that?

JOHNSON: Yes, I would. We would learn nothing from it. Again, we would be focusing on the guilt of Westmoreland. Westmoreland doesn't know what guilt means. Westmoreland is in to killing Communists and accomplishing his mission and getting a lot of medals.

He didn't say to himself it is wrong to saturation bomb these people. It is his right to get out of Vietnam and make a moral decision. His framework was simply, it is right to win this war, it is wrong to lose it. That is all.

People can see how Westmoreland and Nixon have institutionally victimized men to believe their own rhetoric. People seem to fail to see how LT Calley is the ultimate victim of the institutional structure of this country.

ABZUG: We, I think that is at the highest levels of the civilian and military leadership in this country. my point is it serves no purpose to prosecute these men, because after aIl, we prosecuted individuals instead of focusing on the root causes of fascism in Nazi Germany and 25 years later the same rules of land warfare that were violated by the Nazi's are now being violated by our country. So what good are the principles? they didn't attempt to make a search and examination of the institutional forces.

LIVINGSTON: The responsibility is with us.

DELLUMS: Congressman Ryan has a brief comment.

RYAN: I simply have 1 comment, and it is this. I do not agree that individual accountability should not be fixed or where there have been violations establish a legal process of the rules of law or a military code. I think they still have to be made to believe that there were those who killed innocent children and those who did not. I think the credibility is a very important matter.

DELLUMS: We are going to divert from the format that we have used earlier.

We will have 3 Capts make brief opening statements, and then we will question them as a group, and that will be Capt Greg Hayward, Capt Ron Bartek and Capt O'Mera. We will begin with Capt Hayward.

STATEMENT OF GREG HAYWARD, Capt. U.S. Army West Point, Class of 1964. Washg'tn, DC HAYWARD: I graduated from the military academy in 1964 and spent 6 years in the Army as an infantry officer. I had 2 tours in Vietnam. my 1st tour was in 1966, and I was a platoon leader for 6 months and a div commander's aid for the 1st div commander and returned to Vietnam in '68, where I was a company commander for 6 months and General Williamson's aide.

He was the CG to the 25th div for my last 6 months in the country.

I would like to tell a few personal experiences and relate them to a policy perspective and then talk a few minutes about some of the questions that have already been asked. We had an area that General Williamson considered a thorn in our side. It was called the Citadel area. It was the home of about 200 to 300 Vietnamese. We had a fire support base called Persian where your 2nd Bn, 12th Infantry, was, and General Williamson decided we were to systematically remove these people from there homes, so we could expand the free-fire zone around the FSB Persian.

We did this by having ambush patrols at night in a the road networks leading in and out of the village. 1 of our units was given the mission to remove the villagers, the civilians from this area. They went through with armored vehicles and started burning these homes and burnings the villages in the Citadel area. The CG's guidance was not, of course, to go through and burn the ho much pressure on the commander of this Bn to perform we and to accomplish his mission that I am sure in his mind that anything went.

This was a dear violation of the rules of land warfare, forcibly moving the civilian population from their homes.

Another instance, specific instance of a violation of the rules of land warfare was when we planned the artillery bombardment of a hospital installation in Cambodia. We had a FSB called Diamond, 2,000 or 3,000 meters inside South Vietnam from Cambodia, and it was there as bait, you will, because that was when we got our best BODY COUNT ratios, when we were attacked a night on our FSBs and we were successful in luring the enemy across the border into attacking us, and we had preplanned artillery are on the 9th VC's div hospital complex in Cambodia. The plan was, should we not need all our air power and artillery power to protect the Diamond are support base, that a portion of that would be allocated to are into Cambodia on this hospital complex--another clear violation of the rules of land warfare.

Now, every soldier who goes to Vietnam is issued a little pocket-sized card, and in many units he is fined if it isn't on his person at all times. Should an inspection come up, he is fined if he doesn't have this card. Listed on the card is the manner in which we are to treat civilians, the manner in which we are to treat POW's. We systematically remove these people from their villages. As you have heard in other testimony, we don't treat our POW's very well, and we are bombing hospitals, which is in all of our lectures and training that we might have had in terms of what goes in warfare, we know that also is a violation. These things added up, you know, in the subjective minds of our soldiers is a dehumanization of the Vietnamese.

Another specific incident, as a company commander in November time frame of 1968, my company was a mechanized company, we were sweeping a road south out of Dau Tieng toward another Bn's base camp. On this sweep we came through a village where we had an ambush patrol the night before from a platoon, from the 1st Bn, 27th Infantry, whose base camp I was sweeping toward.

I found 10, at least 10-plus civilians, women and children, burned to death in their homes in that village, and asked the platoon that was still there what had happened, had they had a big fight the night before? They hadn't. Not a shot was fired in anger from the enemy, but this platoon leader had called in white phosphorous mortar are that night on this village, and he had done it because he saw people moving in the village at night. People get up out of their homes at night just to go to the bathroom. He had his ambush adjacent to this village, and if he did see shadows moving in the village at night he felt because of this BODY COUNT mania, because of this FREE-FIRE ZONES kind of attitude, that he was justified in firing mortar are into that village, which be did. I reported this to the Bn commander, to his command post at 1st, 27th, when I reached it later that day and then saw a systematic effort to hide this atrocity, if you will, and that was because I think that loyalty to your commander is often a greater value than truth in Vietnam. Certainly this LT wasn't being protected, but that Bn commander was being protected when this didn't reach Bgd, it didn't reach the press, it didn't reach the div level, and it never did.

We had in the div and I came across a man named Capt Phelps at 1 time, by reputation only, as a company commander, and we had something in the div called Phelps' Bandits.

This was a platoon organized supposedly from former VC, and they had a great reputation as to getting POWs to talk, and their reputation was in sort of the Project Phoenix Program where we eliminated the VC infrastructure by finding who the VC were in the villages and hamlets, and these people would go in at night and kill them or take them away.

As an aide to the div commander, I ran across Capt Phelps whenever he would come back to the div base camp Cu Chi, the div commander, General Williamson, would invite him as his personal guest that night at the meal.

I did not know of any personal atrocities that Capt Phelps did or didn't do.

I am not sure he did any. His reputation is great, and it is odd that the div commander would give so much prominence to a young man who had this kind of reputation of gaining information from VC at any cost he didn't support this kind of action. I wanted to talk just a moment about Congressman Ryan's question about treating the Vietnamese as less than human. I think several things add up to this. We speak of this constantly in derogatory terms. We relocate them, as I mentioned in the Citadel instance. We give them less than adequate hospital care. We don't call in medevac helicopters for them unless there happen to be also wounded Americans.

We have this great emphasis on BC, which our generals are promoted on, and generals who do not produce BODY COUNT are not promoted, and when we intentionally violate the rules that we have on our MACV cards that outline how we are to treat civilians, that when you add up a these things, none of them singularly represents a policy of treating the Vietnamese as less than human, but when these are added together, they definitely represent a policy of treating the Vietnamese a less than human. Congressman Ryan also asked a question earlier about BODY COUNT and the distortion of BODY COUNT figures. 1 incident occurred in our Bn when I was an aide to the div commander. Our 3rd Bn, 22nd Infantry, had not been getting the BODY COUNT that the other Bns in the div had, and General Williamson told that Bn commander, LT Colonel Carmichael, that he had better start producing or we would get a Bn commander in that Bn that could produce.

Colonel carmichael got the message loud and clear. Approximately 2 weeks later his firebase was attacked. He called in that night a BODY COUNT of 312 and he had taken 1 wounded. We flew out the next morning, I flew with General Williamson the next morning. We landed and counted the bodies around the parameter of that base camp, and there were 30-plus North Vietnamese bodies and a few wounded POW's.

General Williamson questioned him a little bit further, and said I understood you have 312 BODY COUNT and I see 30-plus here, where are the other bodies? Colonel Carmichael then gave a vague estimate of, we I had an ambush patrol in a particular location on the map and they saw 100 VC moving across an open field that night in preparation for attack and we called in s lot of artillery are out there, and we counted those 100. He gave instances like that which amounted to 312. It was obvious to everybody that was a lie. but General Williamson had put so much pressure on the colonel to produce the BC, the man had no choice. He is 45 years old and he probably has 2 kids to send to college, and General Williamson, recognizing that he bad placed this pressure on the Bn commander, accepted this lie.

There this thing becomes circular. In addition to that, that figure had already been reported to II Field Forces, to LT General Ewell, who had programs being promoted on the "BC mania." General Ewell was the div commander of the 9th div in the Delta. This div amassed an unsurpassed record of BC, and it was based on lies. And everybody in the unit knew it. He would claim kills at night with his sniper teams armed with infrared scopes at 600 meters. You can't kill somebody at 600 meters at night with a rifle unless you are very lucky, and a you could, you can never tell whether it is a civilian or a soldier.

General Ewell was promoted above several officers to the job of Field Force commander, and he used the term not an Indian hunt, but he used the term "killing fish in a barrel," and that is how he described several operations, and I personally heard him talk about "killing fish in a barrel." We put great emphasis on this BC. It seems ironic that General Ewell is our military representative to the Paris Peace Talks. It is hard to understand that he can deal in good faith across a bargaining table now when he made his reputation as an American in Vietnam killing Vietnamese; that he can in good faith bargain. I don't think he is that sort of diplomat that we should have.

DELLUMS: Capt. Bartek


© 2005 Displaced Films. All Rights Reserved