Marine enlisted men and officers, but also could bring out the worst. Captain Merrill L. Bartlett, a former Marine intelligence officer, remembered one regimental S-5 officer "already 'in his cups' by late afternoon," ordering the scores of Vietnamese civilians employed on the base, into a formation. According to Bartlett, the Marine officer "would then parade the lines with a club, looking for contraband. Finding something like a package of C-ration cigarettes, he would assault the luckless person with the club. My last memory of this officer is ... seeing him passed out in a mud puddle in front of his hooch on New Year's Eve." On the other hand, Charles R. Anderson, a former Marine lieutenant assigned to the 3d MP Battalion at Da Nang during the latter part of 1968, described his battalion's S-5 officer as one who "wore his commission better than most who carried one" and who had volunteered for the S-5 job with the hopes of transferring into a combat unit. After a brief time in his new position, "he soon became seriously interested in the Vietnamese people and forgot about going into the bush." According to Anderson, despite cynicism on the part of other officers in the battalion, "those in S-5 labored on, determined to show the Vietnamese that America was trying to do things other than burning and killing."57 Homicide in the Countryside
In a sense, the civic action program was part of the larger effort to win the so-called "hearts and minds" of the local populace, but this called for a special interaction between different and often alien cultures. For example, the deployment of the Korean Marine Brigade from the relatively unpopulated Chu Lai area into the Da Nang sector in January 1968 caused a deterioration of relations with the local villagers. According to General Cushman, he never really had control of the Koreans. Cushman stated our relationship was "operational guidance . . . [and} they didn't do a damn thing unless they felt like it," Cushman's deputy, Major General Rathvon McC. Tompkins,* observed that the Vietnamese feared the Koreans more than anyone else and Cushman later confirmed that the South Vietnamese "people don't like them." According to the III MAF commander, General Lam, the South Vietnamese I Corps commander "hates their guts ... He smiles, he's polite, but he'd just as soon they'd go the hell home or some other Corps area." Tompkins later related that if the Korean Marines received fire "or think they'd get fired on from a village ... they'd divert from their march and go over and completely level the village .... It would be a lesson to them." Cushman concurred with Tompkins, remarking several years afterwards, "we had a big problem with atrocities attributed to them which I sent on down to Saigon." According to the III MAF commander, "I don't know how that ever came out ... I doubt if anything ever came out of it." He stated the Koreans "of course denied it, so I don't know exactly what went on. I had some heart to heart talks with them, but I didn't really get anywhere."58"
Of course, incidents with the local population were not confined only to Korean or to ARVN troops. In March 1968, in the hamlet of My Lai in Quang Ngai Province, a platoon from the Army's Company C, Task Force Barker, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, led by 1st Lieutenant William L. Calley, murdered over 120 villagers including old men, women, and children.*** It would be nearly a year later before the details of the massacre surfaced. A Department of the Army special board, headed by Army Lieutenant General William R. Peers, discovered that the 11th Brigade and Americal Division held only perfunctory investigations into the killings and failed to report any suspicions through the chain of command to either III MAF or U.S. Army, Vietnam. When asked about My Lai several years later. General Cushman answered, "the administrative chain to which these reports had to be made in no way went through III MAF. It went from [Major General Samuel] Koster [the Americal Division commander] to [Lieutenant General Bruce] Palmer, the Army [deputy] component
*MajGen Tompkins was the 3d Marine Division commander until 21 May when he relieved MajGen William J. Van Ryzin as Depury Commander, III MAF. See Chaprer 15.
-"According to Igor Bobrowsky, who served with Combined Action Platoon Delta 2 in the Thanh Quit sector, this incident occurred in the nearby Phong Ni hamlets "when the Koreans made their way north from Dien Ban to relieve our units." He wrote it was "a very serious incident of that particular type (even we [italics in original] felt it was above & beyond acceptable bounds)." Igor Bobrowsky, Comments on draft, n.d. fJan95] (Vietnam Comment Files). General E. E. Anderson, then the III MAF Chief of Staff, remembered that the incident occurred on 12 February 1968, "and a very close hold confidential investigation was held by a III MAF investigating officer. Since the ROK Marine brigade was not a subordinate of III MAF, the investigation was limited. It was a mpleted and typed by my stenographer and hand carried to MACV in an "Eyes Only" sealed envelope on April 16, 1968. Rather revealing photographs were enclosed. A few weeks later, the package was returned to my office without any comment whatsoever." E.E. Anderson Comments.
***See also Chapter 13.