9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Topics of a general nature that relate to anything to do with the 6th Battalion 31st Infantry that served in Vietnam.
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9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Postby jodon » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:35 pm

The Nation magazine has come out with a lead story in their latest issue which equates the ninth divisions time in Vietnam with war crimes equal to "many My Lai's". Operation "Speedy Express" was concered only with maximum body counts and Vietnamese civilians were killed indiscrimanately according to this article. I want to alert the brothers to this extreme libel . I will save most of what I have to say for a letter to the editor canceling my subscription.
Why after all these years they have to dig up some old second hand crap to make these allegations is hard to figure. I believe it is part of the effort going back to that time to make the mostly unwilling young soldiers who fought that war responsible for it. I believe we should start a "speedy express" forum where guys who were there when that operation was taking place (apparently a couple years) can relate incidents either supporting or refuting these allegations. I know the "just wanna hear happy talk" guys might have their heart rate increased, but a libel like this should not go unanswered. The happily out to pasture ones can just ignore it and turn to joke page. For those who still consider themselves, soldiers in defense of their country, take it as a call to action.
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That is quite a load of crapola in that story

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:31 pm

You can read it all online.. You can even submit a written reaction if you can work up a full head of steam......although looks like nobody has yet. Only two responses at the moment, and both of them think the 9th Division lived up to the handle of its 3rd Brigade Go Devils as they murdered civilians every day.

My personal reaction is that such an insane story, based largely on some mysterious E5's letter to a general, is so crazy that only the lunatic left would believe it anyway. Particularly with the added hoot that the E5 has managed to die before the reporter could look him up. And all this coming from a publication that bills itself as the premier left wing magazine in Ameraca makes it hardly worth the effort to refute. But...to each his own reaction.


http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081201/turse
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Postby SgtMike » Wed Nov 19, 2008 8:00 am

Operation Speedy Express
December 1968 to 31 May 1969
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Speedy Express

Postby Delta75 » Thu Nov 20, 2008 10:22 am

Not sure when you guys were in the field..but.....I was there during most of this time period (Jan69 - Jan70). During the Jan69 - May69 timeframe we did one eagle flight after another...so many that they stopped trying to record our number of flights and simply awarded each of us a single Air Medal.

One point that needs to be made very clear......this is not the first time that this information has been in print. A briefer version has been published in a number of books.

Another thing to make clear is that during this period we "were" under a great deal of pressure from the brass (Ewell and Hunt) to increase body count. Due to this pressure many body counts were reported that never happened. If we were in contact, and found no bodies... but some blood trails, estimates would be made as to the number "probably" killed....with the fall back being..."The VC carry their dead with them from the battlefield". In other words, we gave the brass what they wanted...and....it was quite clear that the brass didn't give a damn what happened to us....they simply wanted their body-count. If they really cared what happened to us, why would they (from their C&C chopper flying safely above) have put us on line to sweep a "known" heavily booby-trapped area?

Unfortunately much of the other described activities did occur, and without a doubt, many innocent Vietnamese people were shot because they made the mistake of running out of fear. We also had snipers assigned to us, some who didn't seem too particular about who they shot. I have no idea as to the truth, but the rumor was that during this period, a sniper got an incountry R&R after he shot a certain number. Again...not sure that this was true....it might have just been "grunt jealousy" due to the fact that we spent so much time in the field with no incountry R&R.

During this period, I doubt that the "actual" body count was even 50% of the reported body count...and.....I doubt that 50% of the people that we shot had weapons when we reached them (even though some had paperwork, flags, etc. that were VC related). Another fallback....."The VC who got away, took the weapons".

IMPORTANT: I do want it clearly understood that I "never" saw at any level, "Battalion-Company-Platoon", Vietnamese non-combatants intentionally killed. Yes, there were some killed as we called artillery or airsupport onto what we interpreted as enemy positions, and, as previously stated, many were killed as they ran (some were later identified as draft-dodgers) out of fear....but how the heck did we know that they were "not" the enemy. Believe me, when people (men...not women and children) ran, we shot first and checked for weapons later. I personally let a young teenage girl, who was setting a booby-trap, run away....I simply could not shoot her in the back as she ran.

In conclusion....although much of what has been written actually happened (Note...except for the extremely inflated body-count), I believe that it is "totally" absurd to compare My Lai (which happened in a matter of minutes) to something that occurred over a period of 6 months.
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There was a push for body count still in 1970

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:03 am

Here are a few of my off the top of my head reactions in response to Jerry's observation.


I think the body count was a lot more likely to be right in the 6/31st than what I later saw in the 101st with one instance in the 101st coming to mind that I know was all creative writing. And, while with the 9th, I don't recall ever personally seeing or hearing about any unarmed civilians killed. However, what battalion, or more likely brigade HQ, might have done in creative writing regarding enemy body count is something we will never know. I seriously doubt even the generals were so blood thirsty that killing civilians was on their approved list. It was just too easy to make up a number. There was no need to actually kill any unarmed civilians. And...by 1970 Mai Lai was big news and no officer with half a brain would want to be associated with even the suspicion of the possibility of some atrocity on his watch.

Another thing about the story that was bs is the "free fire zones" this guy writes about. Having been involved with artillery I know first hand there were a hell of a lot of places in the Delta where contact only was a requirement for artillery fire. Mined areas near villages were not to be fired on to explode mines if no contact and then sometimes not even if contact. Infantry didn't shoot anything that moved. No way to do that when civilians were, most of the time, never far away.

I think we went to great pains not to murder any civilians.

I remember one day, after walking through some tu dia advertised booby traps in a thicket outside a village, that we couldn't direct arty on, and one guy actually getting hurt by an explosion. Then we kept going to an open rice field with the village in sight. An older man was working a water buffalo in his fields, not 100 yards from where we had taken the casualty. A point man went walking down a dike passing him by and then there was an explosion and our point man was badly wounded. The farmer kept plowing like nothing had happened. But...we dusted our second casualty of the day off and kept going to the road and trucks that were waiting. No village was burned and the man in the field with his water buffalo wasn't hurt or killed by us. I don't know what anybody else thought, but I was thinking that old man was a victum of circumstance caught between us and the VC. There was no way he could win. You had to imagine what was going through his mind as he waited to see if we would kill him.

Snipers did get R&R's for kills. They were sometimes pretty hungry for them like you say. I remember a story about one who almost blew some kids away that were out gigging frogs. But the CO, and a platoon sgt near enough to possible victums to suspect they weren't what the sniper thought stopped it before it could happen. The Platoon sgt and a couple of men lay down behind a dike on the path the giggers were taking and jumped up and grabbed them and pulled them down in the paddy and discoved they were just kids. ( This must have been about March or April of 1970.)
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Question

Postby Delta75 » Thu Nov 20, 2008 1:06 pm

I have, of course, read the article and have a question.....

A Maj William Taylor refers to a "door gunner was firing a .50 caliber machine gun out the door". In all of my many eagle flights...I saw plenty of M60's firing "out the door"....but never once did I see a 50 caliber "firing out the door". How about you guys??????????????
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Good catch there Jerry

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:17 pm

I don't even remember door gunners on troop slicks firing their 60's unless it was a hot LZ. I never saw any 50's either.

I do remember those "hunter-killer teams". Little LOH would fly down close to the ground and flit around like a bee in a field of clover and try to draw fire and the Cobra would be up above hovering with it's nose down looking to see what the LOH could flush.
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M60

Postby Delta75 » Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:21 pm

Niner...I was referring to the comment that spoke of a 50 caliber machine gun being fired out the door. I saw plenty of 60s fired out the door of a helicopter..but I never saw a door gunner firing a 50 caliber out the door.
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Postby SgtMike » Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:15 pm

All I ever saw was 60's for the door gunners. Never 50's...

Guys I know the bs is pretty deep in this article. I hope you and everyone else who reads it has their hip boots on.

There is nothing like second hand info that can't be verified. We all know how good the VC and NVA were at policing up most of their wounded and dead. Not to mention their weapons. I remember seeing them picking up weapons from those left behind as they made a hasty retreat.

Is it worth our while to even give this shit credence by commenting on it?
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credance?

Postby jodon » Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:01 am

In other words by commenting on it we are showing that it is true. By definition that is what giving credance to it by commenting means. As usual the opposite is true.
If we let articles like that go by without commenting, then we are giving credance to them. After all if an author can put out that kind of article and the three or so million Vietnam vets out there say nothing. Doesn't that makes it appear that it must be true as written? Either that or perhaps that Vietnam vets are too dumb, lazy, or uncaring to mind, when their efforts, and those of their dead comrades have been made to appear to be premeditated murder.
Imagine a 20 something to whom the Vietnam war is as much ancient history as the first world war was to us. He has a grandpa who died there and now after reading this article maybe he thinks that his grandpa murdered woman and kids. Don't you think those who were with his grandpa should set him straight? Is there any more important way of honoring their memory than that? Or is all that stuff thought and said at Memorial day at least just more bs crap?
Just about every magazine has a letter to editor section where any little detail of an article that someone can take exception to usually does, with one or 2 letters calling the magazine or author to task for their mistake. I plan on letting people know that some of the impressions left by this article are false, and refer those wanting the real info to this website. Where those who NOBODY can dipute have the most credance in this matter can set them straight. Those who were there, us!
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Postby SgtMike » Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:58 am

If I had a book or article I wanted to promote all I have to do is create some controversy and enough controversy for the mainstream news media to pickup on it and guess what? I have a best seller simply because I get free advertisement. In this case not only will those who know this is Bull shit come out but all of the wanabes will come out. The BS stories will thrive simply because that's what sells newspapers and magazines, not the truth. BS trumps Truth everytime. So just as a sourdough starter grows as it is fed so with this story. And just think if it wasn't fed and in this case no one responded it would have died from starvation or lack of interest.
I personally did nothing wrong and know of no one who did the whole eighteen months I was over there. But unfortunately that info won't sell.
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Joe

Postby Niner Alpha » Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:39 am

So if you think "If we let articles like that go by without commenting, then we are giving credance to them", why haven't you posted a letter of comment on their site then?

If you post a comment I'll post a comment. How about that? I don't think, however, that those who are in accord with that sites agenda would care what either of us think, because they invested in a different mind set as soon as they read the title of the story, but I"d post something in protest if you will.
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Chumming

Postby SgtMike » Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:09 am

Do you know what chumming is?

One definition is: chum - bait, decoy, lure - something used to lure fish or other animals into danger so they can be trapped or killed.

In the literary world Chumming is the introduction of "food for thought" for the sake of attracting... The neat thing about literary fishing is that you constantly have to try to outsmart the reader. You can chum with anything, in this case the use of a letter that can't be verified and the twisting of statistics to bait the reader. The rule of thumb in North America is "If you chum, they will come".

Think about it...
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Chumming?

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:59 am

The story is obviously an advertisement for a sensational atrocity book billed as more spectacular than Mai Lai. I think the story isn't intended to chum for us but for those who wish to invest again in the old murdering Vietnam vet thing.

Those that would buy this National Enquirer level story, hook, line, and sinker, can't be much brighter than a turnip anyway.....but if Joe, or anybody else, steps forward and says anything, I'll add my two cents worth of angry, but considered, comment.

Say, isn't this a job for the Regimental Commander of the 31st Association in some "official" capacity? Rejection of the story would look better coming from a retired Colonel....maybe...or maybe not. Or...the 9th Division Association? No forget that. It doesn't really exist. Or how about the MRFA? They know about it....but haven't said a word either. .
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Not much chance they will print my reply.

Postby jodon » Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:21 am

If you want to write about war atrocities how about this one. The intentional, carefully planned burning to death of woman and children and old people in one 40 hour period in numbers equivalent to a MY Lai per month for every month since the incident happened -- 65 years ago! But mentioning that one of hundreds of intentional mass murder acts by that generation in that war wouldn't do, Because those who did that were the "greatest generation" and their war was the "good war". Why this mention of the fire bombing of refugee packed Dresden in Germany won't be printed. Instead Nick Tuurse has to trot out some old stats make some false assumptions do to personal cluelessness about the military and site as a only witness an unverified letter writer, to renew the same old practise from long ago of branding as wanton indescriminating killers the mostly unwilling, drafted participants of another greatest generation started war.
The fact that this was the first war in history with elaborate measures put into place to prevent civilian casualties make these stale, old, long discredited allegations even more hard to figure. Hundreds more Americans died there than would have if those measures to prevent civilian casualties hadn't been in place.
Vietnam Vets served the will of the American electorate honorably and with great courage despite the very difficult situation they were put into. Those that scream and cry otherwise to anyone who will listen are usually the tens of thousands of phony vets out there. But don't take my word for it even though I was a grunt in the 9th division in Vietnam. We are still around by the thousands. We have web sites and organizations. ---http://6thofthe31st.com ---http://www.vietnam6bn31inf.com/--http://www.31stinfantry.org/ Try these for starters. Don't be mislead by writers like Nick Turse. when its easy to get the truth from those who were there. By the way please cancel my subscription. As you can see I didn't like the first issue I recieved.
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That's a well done statement Joe

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:03 am

I take it that you sent that to the print publication. How about the online response that you see linked to the story on the internet? You would know right away if it is accepted or not.
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Ok Joe.

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:02 pm

After rewriting this about a dozen times, I sent it in to the email response. The auto response was that they may or may not post it. Anyway:



I actually served with the 9th Division in Vietnam. I was one thing and the other of a forward observer team for Alpha Company 6/31st Infantry in that Division. I served with the 9th Division eight and a half months ending in September 1970 and eight months of that time was in the field with one infantry Company.

During the time I served I know of no atrocity committed by 9th Division soldiers against civilians even when the VC attempted to provoke retaliation against civilians in restricted fire areas. I more than once saw the company I was with take casualties because of VC placed mines near villages that artillery fire couldn’t be brought against due to fire restrictions. At no time did I see or hear of retaliation against civilians by the infantry company I was with because of casualties suffered.

The 9th Division operated in a densely populated area with hard rules of engagement that they actually played by even when they took casualties doing so. The interest in body count, which the news media and some generals had a fascination with, existed only at a remote distance from the infantry company. Grunts could care less what the body count was. A grunts interest was in staying alive and eventually going home. Killing civilians to add to a body count would have been a foreign as well as a repugnant idea to the men I knew.

I constructed a website for the men of the battalion I served with to make contact. www.6thofthe31st.com . I know of no 9th Division veteran that I have talked to over the last half dozen years through my site that recalls anything like what is alleged in the story I see presented. Perhaps if Mr.Turse had to tell the families of the men that died in any of the battalions of the 9th Division that their loved ones were murderers on the basis of what flimsy evidence he has gathered he would rethink his story and do more objective research before he publishes his book. He can see a list of 150 men of one 9th Division battalion that were killed in that war over the two and a half years that the 6/31st served in Vietnam at my site. Mr Turse dishoners every last one of them.

There are a lot of 9th Division vets of Vietnam still alive. Perhaps he ought to talk to some of them.

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Very good Robert

Postby jodon » Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:23 am

Probably more likely to be printed than mine. Since mine questions the self proclaimed greatest generations conduct in their big war. I don't think WWII soldiers were any more likely to kill civilians than those of any other war. Its just that I alwaus found it odd that there is always such a focus on the Vietnam war when the topic is atrocities. I thought a little exercise in perspective might highlight the unfairness of that. I used the online form to send mine in. I thought it was for the print edition but after doing it it sounded more like it was for the online edition. I hope they have the guts to print one of our letters at least.
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reply to Mike

Postby jodon » Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:58 am

If I was proposing getting together and renting a billboard in Times Square, or a half page in a newspaper, to denounce the story, then your argument about only giving it publicity might make sense. But a few lines saying basically - no thats not true - from one who was there can do nothing but hurt his hopes of promoting the story.
I know you're a fan of our current president and all his ways. His upper class snob way in foreign policy of just sticking his nose in the air and snubbing foreign critics. As if it was beneath his dignity to acknowlege or respond to their insults and misinformation,
I think the average person of the world appreciates it when a man can respond toe to toe and verbally crush an opponent who insults them, with a dignified response using the power of his reason, logic, and the undeniable truth of his words. Delivered in a measured but passionate way to make his critic look like the fool he is. Leave the nose in the air and back turned response to arrogant society matron types. The world is sick of our arrogance.
I think in Barack and a couple of his choices we will have people with the ability to dish out better than they receive and win the admiration of the common people of the world.
However, If a guy is such a boor as to call the president of the country that is hosting him "the devil" like Chavez did at the UN, Then no response is necesary. As he has showed himself to be the corse peasant that he is, all by himself,.no help necesary.
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What do you know

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:54 pm

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Went to the library today

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:36 pm

I made a trip to the magazine section and the latest Nation is out. I wanted to see the letters to the editor.

Sure enough, half dozen letters about the atrocity story. Nobody from the 9th Divison was represented. All letters seemed to be a pat on the back for the writer. About what I expected. I'm surprised the ones Joe and I wrote were posted on their website.
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Re: 9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:50 pm

Mister atrocity book writer had his say about Ken Burns Vietnam war story I noticed a little while ago. He is still beating the drum for atrocity in Vietnam but this time mentions Marines specifically. He faults Burns for not being more outspoken about the evil that the military did in Vietnam. Of course....if you want to read his book ..he can tell you all about it.

Burns does mention General Ewell getting a promotion for an unbelievable body count of 10,000 with something like 250 US KIA while he was running the 9th Division. The show's explanation was that a lot of civilians were killed in free fire zones in the Delta. No telling what was or wasn't a free fire zone in 1967 or 1968, but outside of the Plain of Reeds most areas were highly populated and at least artillery was restricted to mostly contact only. And as I had written before, I 'm not aware of any civilians being murdered while I was there.

https://theintercept.com/2017/09/28/the ... lian-toll/
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Re: 9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Postby Niner Delta » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:20 pm

I'm only up to episode 6, but so far it seems there is a lot more about the Marines than about Army.
According to the National Archives web site........

Army deaths - 38,224
Marine deaths - 14,884

And according to americanwarlibrary.com.......

Army served in RVN - 1,407,000
Marines served in RVN - 294,000

"The figures show that of 2,100,000 men and women who served in Vietnam, 58,152 or 2.7% were killed.
The Army suffered the most casualties, 38,179 or 66% of all casualties.
As a branch of the US forces, however, the Marine Corps lost the highest percentage of its own men (5.0%),
which in turn accounted for 25.5% of all casualties."

.
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Re: 9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Postby Ron » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:37 am

Another "pointman" here,

Been doing random check on Niner's site and after hearing about Victor Charlies 'body count' last night during our chat session I decided to check back with the forum.

I'm observing a hell of a lot more activity now than in the past on Robert's site since PBS is showing of our Vietnam story. Oops, that's not a "story" as you might know, but an actual incident that all us 'Nam Vets experienced. And of that experience, body counts appear to be the topic of discussion lately.
Ok, being that I too was a 11B10 'grunt' I saw some so-called body counts, but there were innocent civilians either caught in a crossfire or ignoring curfew. I was involved in one incident where Papasun was headed off to market in his sampan in the early hours of morning and orders were given to open fire. Needless to say he suffered fatal wounds of which, again, orders were given to eliminate the civilian & sink his water craft. At that point I walked away. It was not anyone should experience and the incident wasn't discussed any further.
True, some hooches were torched, but if any civilians were intentionally killed I didn't see this; only those such incidents as already stated where someone was seen running from our approaching Company.

I do know for a fact that a Marine cousin of mine did actually shoot a teenager approaching his platoon on a 2 x 2 carrying explosives under her garments. He caught flack from shooting her, but when the teenager's clothing was removed it was disclosed she was wrapped with grenades. Guess someone made a wise, experienced decision in saving lives that day.
Being with the 9th Div. serving with the 6/31st during my whole time in-country I didn't hear or see any intentional shootings of civilians, but I did see and hear of "friendly fire" shootings. We were having more casualties done to ourselves than hearing about civilians being intentionally shot. Guess one had to be at the right place at the right time to experience firsthand such incidents.
I'll leave it at that and let others, hopefully, post their experiences finally on this forum. We've been there - done that, and now to continue on with our lives. Welcome Home All.
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Re: 9th div. = War crimes - according to lead magazine article

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:20 am

I remember an "almost" thing once that speaks to how close to the edge it all was sorting civilians from VC.

We were on ambush near a collection of farm houses one night. It was suspected tax collectors or other enemy VC or regulars would visit after dark. The platoon I was with was split into groups of a handful of men each and spread out over a broad area of paddy. I was FO Logan's RTO at the time sometime in the first half of 1970 and was with the CP group in one of these small groups. We had a sniper with us. Snipers... at least some of them... were enthusiastic to put it mildly.

Sometime during the night some lights were seen and figures were moving down a dike off in the distance. They were moving along and stopping for a little and then moving again. They seemed to be carrying unknown objects and were a source of interest. The sniper wanted to start shooting. The officer in charge....the XO and not Lavazzi.. on one of his few trips to field..told the sniper to hold his horses as he sensed something about them wasn't right...maybe the lights. The sniper was not happy but did as he was ordered and held his fire even as he followed then in his starlight scope sight.

After watching them for a while, and everybody on the scattered ambush positions being aware, it occurred to one of the positions that the mysterious group of people were walking down a dike that was running near them and coming their way. So men from that position crawled out next to the dike used as a avenue of approach. When the mysterious people got above them they rose up and grabbed them and pulled them down into the paddy.

The night walkers turned out to be kids out gigging frogs. They were carrying long sticks and sacks over their shoulders. If the sniper had opened up maybe a few of them would have been killed. It was close thing. Wonder if that had happened if the Army would have covered it up and if the sniper would have gotten his three day in country R&R? I wonder if they had covered it up if they would have counted the bodies as enemy for the great score board in Washington.

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