g innys ‘ COPYING SERVICE Copying Binding Printing Color,Copying Graphics Word Processing Austin Lubbock Son Marcos women, and children would be gone to market at 0700 hours . . . [and] we were going in to completely clear the area [of the VC 48th Battalion] so they would not have a base of operations … ” The operation would begin at 7:30 instead of “first light,” Medina was told, in order to give the women and children time to leave. Medina also testified, and transcripts made that day confirmed his statements, that he was ordered by his battalion headquarters to go “back into My Lai 4” and count the civilian dead, but General Samuel Koster, the Commander of the Americal Division, who was flying over the operation, countermanded the order, saying “Don’t send them back . . . into that mess. What does [Medina] say he saw?” Medina answered, “About 20 or 28 dead [civilians].” Koster replied, “That sounds about right.” Koster, who had watched the entire operation from his command and control helicopter, also sent a telegram to the troops the next day which said, “Good work men. Aggressive!” And a few days later, General William Westmoreland, Supreme Commander in Vietnam, sent a telegram congratulating Task Force Barker for a “job well done.” “Unbelievable!” Lane said, “This was a war where troops got telegrams, for God’s sake, from their commanders!” That company [Charlie], that year, Lane believes is a tragic example of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s Project 100,000 \(the name given to the late 60’s program that allowed certain educational and other requirements for “A great social experiment,” Lane said angrily, “which McNamara and [President Lyndon] Johnson dreamed up to gather up more boys for the war so Johnson wouldn’t have to fight the folks who would really go vote and start screaming about drafting their children. It would give the Army troops, and in turn the Army would teach ’em how to read and write and brush their teeth. But they never got around to teaching them anything. They just shipped them out to Vietnam. “The real guilty ones, Johnson, McNamara, Nixon, Westmoreland, they’ve never had to answer for what they did to the Huttos of this country, but I tried to make Westmoreland answer.” Lane and another enlisted man charged with My Lai crimes, whose charges were later dropped, filed murder charges against Westmoreland during Hutto’s trial. The charges were dismissed, but the act itself caused Westmoreland to call a press conference denying any responsibility for the massacre. During the trials, Lane continued to hammer away at the fact that the commanders were not being held responsible for the actions of their troops in violation of principles established during World War II. “We hanged [Japanese General] Yamashita [for atrocities committed by his troops as the war was ending] even though he proved he was totally cut off from his men and had lost all communication with them. “But go talk to Hutto. Hutto will tell you, better than I can. Let him tell you how much training he had in the Geneva Conventions Rules of Warfare . . . how it felt to be an 18-year-old drop-out straight from the cotton fields of Louisiana, plopped down in the rice fields of Vietnam, scared, homesick, trapped in the deadliest of deadly wars this country has ever known.” c HARLES HUTTO, who was tried and acquitted of murder and assault in 1971, was one of only five men who ever stood trial for crimes committed at My Lai. Today he lives on two acres of rural land near Monroe, Louisiana, with his second wife Vickie and his two children, one by a former marriage that ended in divorce five years ago. He is a graduate electronics technician who tinkers with solar development in his spare time. Hutto is a better-educated man that he was fifteen years ago when he joined the Army at 18, but he still talks with the slow, halting speech patterns of rural, northeastern Louisiana, very soft, very thoughtful. He looks closer to 24 than 34 until you look into his eyes. It is hard to believe he was ever a participant in one of the worst war crimes in America’s history. Vickie Hutto was eight years old when the My Lai massacre happened. She has no memory of it except what Charles has only recently been able to tell her. One of the first things she said when we met was to express her surprise at finding the My Lai story, along with Charles’ name, briefly mentioned in her young son’s junior encyclopedia. “It bothered Charles,” she said, “but it bothered me for a different reason. We’re too young to be in the history books. It didn’t seem right somehow.” Charles’ beginnings did seem to make him an unlikely candidate for the history books. He had grown up in Tallulah, La., a small farming community near the Mississippi border, where his father worked for wages on the Scott Plantation, the second in a family of eight children. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade, he says, “because things was hard, real hard, back in ’64 or ’65, and it’s embarrassing to have to go to school without shoes. My feelings was hurt real “We had a lecture on the Geneva Conventions, about an hour was all.” Charles Hutto bad. I found that after I started working on the farm, I could enjoy myself better . . . being away from people.” He worked on the farm chopping cotton. “I joined the Army in January of 1967 to get away from the situation. I’d never been out of Tallulah before and I wanted to see what else there was in the world . . . and the servicemen I’d seen in town, they looked real nice in their uniforms and all. I wanted to get into mechanics and the recruiters said if we joined we could get what we wanted. But then they said my aptitude was too low, so they stuck me in the infantry. After I raised my hand, I never got nothin’ I wanted. By November of ’67 I was in Vietnam, just a few months shy of my 19th birthday.” “We had a lecture on the Geneva Conventions, about an hour was all; they wasn’t really stressed. It was mostly jungle training [in Hawaii], and always during the training, the Vietnamese was referred to as ‘Gooks’ . . . by everybody. We didn’t get any training about the Vietnamese people, the war, the politics, nothin’ . . . we just had to go fight a war. “The first mission we went on, we ran into a box ambush. That’s when you’ve got the enemy on three sides and just a narrow path, this time it was a bridge, to get back out. Anybody who tried to go back across the bridge got mowed down. We lost seven or eight men that 6 AUGUST 5, 1983
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