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23 Jun, 2013

The wartime horror inflicted on Vietnam – FT.com

In rural Quang Nam province in June 1966, four unarmed local people approached a group of Marines in an attempt to retrieve the body of an elderly man killed the day before by US troops. They wore white, carried a white flag bearing a red cross and brought a letter of introduction in English from an official of the pro-US south Vietnamese government. The troops blindfolded them, destroyed the letter and flag and ordered them to leave. Once they were about 40 metres away, the soldiers opened fire, killing two and wounding a third.

This account was among hundreds Turse found in 2001 while in Washington researching a doctoral thesis on post-traumatic stress order. He stumbled upon boxes full of forgotten archives from the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, a once-secret US military project launched to document alleged American atrocities in order to keep them quiet.

Turse copied about a third of the documents before they were removed from public view the following year. Their accounts of civilian massacres, rapes and torture form the core of his book, which includes interviews with soldiers involved as well as victims and witnesses.

Read the rest: The wartime horror inflicted on Vietnam – FT.com.