Page 6, 27th February 1970

27th February 1970
Page 6
Page 6, 27th February 1970 — CHARACTER CHANGE IN VIETNAM
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CHARACTER CHANGE IN VIETNAM

Keywords: Military, G, Vietnam War

by LEWIS STEDMAN JONES

Incident on Hill 192 by Daniel Lang (Seeker & Warburg 25s.; Pan Books 4s.) THE protest movement against the war in Vietnam finds ammunition for its campaign only too plentiful nowadays. First, there was

Pinkvilte and now comes the

"Incident on Hill 192" . In November 1966 a fiveman patrol started out to comb a sector in the Central Highlands of Vietnam for signs of Viet-cong activity. The sergeant in charge, the youngest but most experienecd soldier in the patrol having fought in Vietnam for a year and been decorated several times, suggested they find themselves a girl to take along "for the morale of the squad." They would use her body as long as it suited them and then dispose of it so that the girl would not be on hand to accuse them of abduction and rape. They did just that and that should have been the end of the affair. Such incidents, after all, are commonplace in war. Rut it wasn't. The fifth member of the patrol, a young man from Minnesota just three weeks out from the States, refused to join in the "fun." More than that he lived to return to his base and report the rape and the murder to his officers. They really would have preferred not to have heard anything about it. The story of patrol and the subsequent courts martial culled from official proceedings and interviews with the young Minnesotan makes absorbing reading. But what is the point of it all? Is it just another painful story of the horrors of war? Perhaps the most pitiful character in it is not the innocent victim but the sergeant who started it all. He was just twenty. When he arrived in Vietnam a year before a comrade knew him as a kindly, considerate and agreeable man. The only difference between him and the young man who denounced him may have been the length of their service in the jungle.




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