I ON THE BASIS OF THE FOREGOING, THE FINDINGS OF THE INQUIRY ARE AS FOLLOWS:
A. Concerning Events Surrounding The Son My Operation of 16 - 19 March 1968
(1) During the period 16-19 March 1968, US Army troops of TF Barker, 11th Brigade, Americal Division, massacred a large number of noncombatants in two hamlets of Son My Village, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. The precise number of Vietnamese killed cannot be determined but was at least 175 and may exceed 400.
(2) The massacre occurred in conjunction with a combat operation which was intended to neutralize Son My Village as a logistical support base and staging area, and to destroy elements of an enemy battalion thought to be located in the Son My area.
(3) The massacre resulted primarily from the nature of the orders issued to persons in the chain of command within TF Barker.
(4) The task force commander's order and the associated intelligence estimate issued prior to the operation were embellished as they were disseminated through each lower level of command, and ultimately presented to the individual soldier a false and misleading picture of the Son My area as an armed enemy camp, largely devoid of civilian inhabitants.
(5) Prior to the incident, there had developed within certain elements of the 11th Brigade a permissive attitude toward the treatment and safeguarding of noncombatants which (contributed to the mistreatment of such persons during the Son Ply Operation.
(6) The permissive attitude in the treatment of Vietnamese was, on 16-19 March 1968, exemplified by an almost total disregard for the lives and property of the civilian population of Son My Village on the part of commanders and key staff officers of TF Barker.
(7) On 16 March, soldiers at the squad and platoon level, within some elements of TF Barker, murdered noncombatants while under the supervision and control of their immediate superiors.
(8) A part of the crimes visited on the inhabitants of Son My Village included individual and group acts Of murder, rape, sodomy, maiming, and assault on noncombatants and the mistreatment and killing of detainees. They further included the killing of livestock, destruction of crops, closing of wells, and the burning of dwellings within several subhamlets.
(9) Some attempts were made to stop the criminal acts in Son My Village on 16 March; but with few exceptions, such efforts were too feeble or too late.
(10) Intensive interrogation has developed no evidence that any member of the units engaged in the Son My operation was under the influence of marijuana or other narcotics.
B. Concerning The Adequacy Of Reports, Investigations And Reviews
(11) The commanders of TF Barker and the 11th Brigade had substantial knowledge as to the extent of the killing of noncombatants, but only a portion of their information was ever reported to the Commanding General of the Americal Division.
(12) Based on his observations, W01 Thompson made a specific complaint through his command channels that serious war crimes had been committed but through a series of inadequate responses at each level of command, action on his complaint was delayed and the severity of his charges considerably diluted by the time it reached the Division Commander.
(13) Sufficient information concerning the highly irregular nature of the operations of TF Barker on 16 March 1968 reached the Commanding General of the Americal Division to require that a thorough investigation be conducted.
(14) An investigation by the Commander of the 11th Brigade, conducted at the direction of the Commanding General of the Americal Division, was little more than a pretense and was subsequently misrepresented as a thorough investigation to the CG, t Americal Division in order to conceal froM him the true enormity of the atrocities.
(15) Patently inadequate reports of investigation submitted by the commander of the 11th Brigade were accepted at face value and without an effective review by the CG, Americal Division.
(16) Reports of alleged war crimes, noncombatant casualties, and serious incidents concerning the Son My operation of 16 March were received at the headquarters of the Americal Division but were not reported to higher headquarters despite the existence of directives requiring such action.
(17) Reports of alleged war crimes relating to the Son My operation of 16 March reached Vietnamese government officials, but those officials did not take effective action to ascertain the- true facts.
(18) Efforts of the ARVN/GVN officials discreetly to inform the US commanders of the magnitude of the war crimes committed on 16 March 1968 met with no affirmative response.
C. Concerning Attempts To Suppress Information
(19) At every command level within the Americal Division, actions were taken, both wittingly and unwittingly, which effectively suppressed information concerning the war crimes committed at Son My Village.
(20) At the company level there was a failure to report the war crimes which had been committed. This, combined with instructions to members of one unit not to discuss the events of 16 March, contributed significantly to the suppression of information.
(21) The task force commander and at least one, and probably more, staff officers of TF Barker may have conspired to suppress information and to mislead higher headquarters concerning the events of 16 - 19 March 1968.
(22) At the 11th Brigade level, the commander and at least one principal staff officer may have conspired to suppress information to deceive the division commander concerning the true facts of the Son My operation of 16-19 March.
(23) A reporter and a photographer from the 11th Brigade observed many war crimes committed by C/1-20 Inf on 16 March. Both failed to report what they had seen; the reporter submitted a misleading account of the operation; and the photographer withheld and suppressed (and wrongfully misappropriated upon his discharge from the service) photographic evidence of such war crimes.
(24) Efforts within the 11th Brigade to suppress information concerning the Son My operation were aided in varying degrees by members of US Advisory teams working with ARVN and GVN officials.
(25) Within the Americal Division headquarters, actions taken to suppress information concerning what was purportedly believed to be the inadvertent killing of 20 to 28 noncombatants effectively served conceal the true nature and scope of the events which had taken place in Son My Village on 16-19 March 68.
(26) Failure of the Americal Division headquarters to act on reports and information received from GVN/ARVN officials in mid April served effectively to suppress the true nature and scope of the events which had taken place in Son My Village on 16-19 March 1968.
(27) Despite an exhaustive search of the files of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division, GVN/ARVN advisory team files, and records holding centers, with few exceptions, none of the documents relating to the so-called investigation of the events of 16-19 March were located.
D. With Respect To Individuals
(1) During the period March-June 1968 a number of persons assigned to the Americal Division and to US Advisory elements located in Quang Ngai Province had information as to the killing of noncombatants and other serious offenses committed by members of TF Barker during the Son My operation in March 1968 and did one or more of the following:
a. Failed to make such official report thereof as their duty required them to make;
b. Suppressed information concerning the occurrence of such offenses acting singly or in concert with others;
c. Failed to order a thorough investigation and to insure that such was made, or failed to conduct an adequate investigation, or failed to submit an adequate report of investigation, or failed to make an adequate review of a report of investigation, as applicable;
or committed other derelictions related to the events of the Son My operation, some constituting criminal offenses.
(2) attached to this chapter at Inclosure 1 is a list of such persons and the omissions and commissions of which they are suspected and upon which the above findings are based.
officers named in Inclosure 1, their position in 1968, and their current
grade and status, are listed below:
|Koster, Samuel W.||MG||CG, Americal Div||Active Duty|
|Young, George H.||BG||ADC (OPS), Americal Div||Active Duty|
|Henderson, Oran K.||COL||CO, 11th Inf Bde||Active Duty|
|Hutter, Dean E.||COL||Senior Advisor 2nd ARVN Div||Active Duty|
|Luper, Robert B.||COL||CO, 6-11th Arty||Active Duty|
|Parson, Nels A.||COL||Chief of Staff Americal Div||Active Duty|
|Barker, Frank A.||LTC||CO TF Barker||Deceased|
|Gavin, David C.||LTC (then MAJ)||Senior District Advisor, Son Tinh District||Active Duty|
|Guinn, William D.||LTC||Deputy Senior Advisor. Quang Ngai Province||Active Duty|
|Holladay, John L.||LTC||CO, 123d Avn Bn||Active Duty|
|Lewis, Francis R.||LTC (Ch)||Div Chaplain, Americal Div||Active Duty|
|Calhoun, Charles C.||MAJ||XO/S3, TF Barker||Active Duty|
|McKnight, Robert W.||MAJ||S3, 11th Inf Bde||Active Duty|
|Watke, Frederic W.||MAJ||CO, Co B, 123d Avn Bn||Active Duty|
|Boatman, Kenneth W.||CPT (then 1LT)||Forward Observer, Command Group, B/4-3||Active Duty|
|Creswell, Carl E.||CPT (Ch)||Div Arty Chaplain Americal Div||Civilian|
|Johnson, Dennis H.||CPT (then 1LT)||Military Intelligence officer in support of TF Barker||Active Duty|
|Koutoc, Eugene M.||CPT||S2, TF Barker||Active Duty|
|Medina, Ernest L.||CPT||CO, C/1-20 Inf||Active Duty|
|Michles, Earl A.||CPT||CO, B/4-3 Inf||Deceased|
|Vazquez, Dennis R||CPT||Artillery Liason officer in support of TF Barker||Civilian|
|Willingham, Thomas K.||CPT (then 1LT)||Plt Ldr, 1st Plt, B/4-3 Inf||Active Duty|
|Calley, William L., Jr.||1LT (then 2LT)||Plt Ldr, 1st Plt, C/1-20 Inf||Active Duty|
|Alaux, Roger L., Jr.||2LT||Arty Forward Observer attached to C/1-20 Inf||Civilian|
|Brooks, Steven K.||2LT||Plt Ldr, 2d Plt, C/1-20||Deceased|
|LaCross, Jeffrey U.||2LT||Plt Ldr, 2d Plt, C/1-20||Civilian|
|Lewis, Michael L.||2LT||Plt Ldr, 2d Plt, B/4-3 Inf||Deceased|
|Mundy, John E.||2LT||Executive Officer, B/4-3||Civilian|
The following enlisted members of the Army operating in support of TF Barker,
on 16 March 1968 and now civilians, by reason of their military training
and assignment, and having a particular duty to report any knowledge of
suspected or apparent war crimes which came to their attention, failed
to perform this duty:
|Haeberle, Ronald L.||SGT||Photographer, Info Office, 11th Inf Bde (31st PID)|
|Roberts, Jay A.||SP5||Senior Correspondent, Info Office, 11th Inf Bde (31st PID)|
(3) Evidence adduced in this Inquiry also indicates that, numerous serious offenses in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the law of war may have been committed by military personnel who participated in the TF Barker operation in Son My during the period 16 - 19 March 1968. Evidence of these suspected offenses has been furnished to representatives of the Provost Marshal General of the Army for further investigation.
(4) Some of the officers and enlisted men concerned fulfilled their minimum obligation to report their knowledge of crimes committed during the Son My operation to their commanding officers. However, had they exhibited deeper concern for their units, the United States Army and the Nation by taking action beyond that which was technically required, it is probable that the details of the Son My incident would have come to light promptly. Those who failed to do so have contributed to a serious obstruction of justice.
E. Concerning The Adequacy of Certain Policies, Directives, And Training
(1) In 1968, the then existing policies and directives at every level of command expressed a clear intent regarding the proper treatment and safeguarding of noncombatants, the humane handling of prisoners of war, and minimizing the destruction of private property.
(2) Directives prescribing the procedures for the reporting of war crimes were not clear as to the action which should be taken by subordinates when their unit commander participated in or sanctioned a war crime. Directives prescribed only that war crimes would be reported to the commanding officer.
(3) Many soldiers in the 11th Brigade were not adequately trained as to:
a. Their responsibilities regarding obedience to orders received from their superiors which they considered palpably illegal.
b. Their responsibilities concerning the procedures for the reporting of war crimes.
c. The provisions of the Geneva Conventions, the handling and treatment of prisoners of war, and the treatment and safeguarding of noncombatants.
F. Peripheral Issues
Findings regarding peripheral issues are discussed in Annex B.
II. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT:
A. You take cognizance of the findings set forth above.
B. The names of the members of the Army listed in paragraph D (2) a, above, together with information concerning their omissions and commissions, be referred to their respective general court-martial convening authorities for possible disciplinary or administrative action.
C. Consideration be given to the modification of applicable policies, directives, and training standards in order to correct the apparent deficiencies noted in paragraph IE above.
MY LAI COURTS-MARTIAL HOMEPAGE