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laboratory equipment. The lance corporal was particularly amused by
the troops seizing stray vehicles such as motor scooters, trucks, and
even jeeps: 'A grunt. . . would just jump on it and start riding it
around the streets .. . that was pretty runny-right in the middle of
this war riding up and down the streets in motor scooters and even a
1964 black Mercedes goes Hying down the street filled up with a bunch
of Marines in it.' A Navy corpsman with the Marines recorded in his
diary: 'Looting is widespread. The ARVN's wait until the Marines secure
an area and then move in to loot. The Marines do well for themselves
also.'49

Although admitting to the validity of some of these accounts, Marine
commanders in Hue believed that their men acted with general restraint
considering all the temptations confronting them. Five years later,
Lieutenant Colonel Gravel recalled, 'we rook things to our use; I wouldn't
kid you about that. I saw some things and I saw that they were returned.'
He remembered: 'We used bedding, we used food, we used alcohol that
was there; but there was no looting to one's own advantage. There were
a couple of attempts at it, but word got around and I daresay there
was damned little, if any.' In a similar vein. Lieutenant Colonel Cheatham
and his company commanders made much the same case. At the Marine Corps
Schools, in July 1973, Captain Meadows, the Company G commander, related:
'We did take things for our use ... blankets, food, water. We must have
taken every candle in that side of the city for illumination for our
own use at night. These things-you want to call it looting? O.K., we
looted.' Despite some admitted pilfering of small items such as watches
and money, all of the company commanders denied there was any real problem.
As Captain Meadows concluded: 'Your troops don't have time to pick up
big things to carry them around. They have other, more pressing things
[to do].'50

Some independent accounts supported the contention of

the Marine commanders that their troops acted with reasonable forbearance in the

city. The


Department of Defense (USMC) Photo A371127

Marine PFC James M. Jones from Company H, 2d Battalion,
5th Marines assists a Vietnamese child to climb out o f a window of
her house to escape the house-to-house fighting in the new city. Marines
did what they could for the hapless civilian population caught up in
the fighting.




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