CO LUY HAMLET - The families of My Lai massacre victims paid quiet tribute to their memories on Sunday, some weeping as they recalled the horror 30 years ago of one of the most brutal moments of the Vietnam War. In villages across this corner of central Vietnam, people were burning incense and praying to lost relatives as they shared a ritual meal marking the eve of the anniversary of the 1968 slaughter. ``I saw everything. I was in the village but managed to run away,'' said villager Vo Ton, 58. ``I still recall everything on this day. I have to keep reminding the children what happened so that it can be remembered forever.'' On March 16, 1968, a series of military operations were launched by U.S. forces against Co Luy, My Lai and other nearby hamlets in an area suspected of being a Viet Cong stronghold. Around 500 people died in the bloodbath that followed. No known soldier was among them. Most were women, children and old men. ``We were hiding in a ditch by a river near this village,'' said former Viet Cong fighter Luong Hung, at the time a 19-year-old guerrilla combatant. ``There were only small units. Ours comprised just four people. We were just local people.'' Hung said he and his colleagues had been heavily outnumbered and were forced to remain hidden throughout the day. ``Afterwards we went to see what had happened, and were shocked. The next day we used mines to take our revenge on seven G.I.'s who tried to enter this village,'' he said. As villagers in Co Luy commemorated the event on Sunday, two U.S. servicemen who sought to halt the carnage were meeting with some of those they saved, just a few miles away. Access was restricted to members of a U.S. television network which paid for the two men to visit. But earlier at the weekend former helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson and door gunner Lawrence Colburn -- decorated earlier this month for bravery in landing their craft in the line of fire between marauding U.S. soldiers and fleeing civilians -- spoke frankly in an interview about their memories. ``I landed the chopper...There was a child in the ditch. It was clinging to its mother among all the bodies there, but the mother was gone,'' Thompson said, explaining how a colleague rescued the child, and then breaking down in tears. ``I held the child. It was just like a little rag doll. I'll never forget the child's face -- the most severe shock I've ever seen,'' said Colburn, adding that he had been distressed to learn during the current visit that the child they saved may have been old enough to remember. On Monday, the day of the anniversary, Colburn and Thompson are due to take part in a ceremony commemorating the event. A U.S.-Vietnam park will be opened for people to reflect on My Lai in a setting emphasising peace rather than war. But in nearby villages, local residents expressed only passing interest. ``Our only real dream is to be able to build a small altar in our village for our relatives,'' said Hung. ``It is our wish that the charity of people around the world will help us fulfil that modest dream.''
Adrian Edwards - REUTERS News Service - March 15, 1998.


For many years William E. Colby and his family lived in this house on Thompson's Point, Lake Champlain, Vermont
Colby was a Princeton graduate who had served in OSS and taken a law degree from Columbia.


William E. Colby was Chief of Station in Vietnam in 1960 and, later, as Director, Civil Operations and Rural Development Support, he had overall responsibility for village pacification, including the controversial PHOENIX program.

William E. Colby on july 19, 1971, before Senate subcommittee testified CIA op Phoenix had killed 21,587 Vietnamese citizens between 1/68 and 5/71. In response to a question from Mr. Reid "do you state categorically that Phoenix has never perpetrated the premeditated killing of a civilian in a non-combat situation?" Colby replied: "No, I could not say that...I certainly would not say never."

Phoenix Program torture tactics include rape, electric shock, water torture, hanging from ceiling, beatings, incarceration and execution. Barton Osborn, Phoenix agent, testified to Congress "I never knew an individual to be detained as a VC suspect who ever lived through an interrogation in a year and a half." Uc 114. Note says this testimony given before U.S Congressional Hearing. 315-321.

For nearly 15 years, starting in the late fifties, Colby ran the CIA's covert operations in Southeast Asia, including the notorious Phoenix Program, designed to ferret out the Communists' political infrastructure in South Vietnam. In later congressional testimony, Colby admitted the program had assassinated over 20,000 (1) of these suspected agents.
"I've defended [Phoenix] as a necessary element of the war," Colby said. "The communists, curiously enough, say it was the most effective program ever used against them... The Phoenix, I always thought, was not all that effective. But if you have a secret mafia inside your population you better find out who they are, and that was what Phoenix was all about, to identify who they were. And if so, [they should] either be captured, convinced to surrender, or in a fight, shot. It was a war."
In seeming contradiction to the bloody and corrupt tactics of that assassination spree, there is evidence to support the notion that Colby wanted to help the Vietnamese people. He supported the broader Pacification Program, which encouraged and helped villagers to protect their hamlets rather than live as refugees and see their homes destroyed by Viet Cong attacks or American bulldozers.
"We would take people out of the refugee camps and put them back in their old villages, put some protection around them, give them some guns to protect themselves, begin to rebuild the village, or the bridge, or the irrigation ditch or whatever was necessary, and they would start up their lives; really decent lives. That was the strategy [of the Pacification Program]," Colby said.
After leaving the Republic of Vietnam and the battles that ultimately consumed the small nation, Colby continued to ascend the ranks of the CIA. The well-known architect of many of the Agency's dirtiest tricks became more and more open about them. When appointed director, he revealed so much to Congress that some of his colleagues whispered that Colby must be a KGB asset. President Gerald Ford soon dismissed him from the job after only two years, in order to appease the critics.

(1) estimates range from 2 to 3 times as many people were actually killed

www.arlingtoncemetery.com


 

 

Statement on Death of William Colby - DCI John Deutch

We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Director of Central Intelligence William E.Colby. During his nearly 30 years of distinguished service in the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency, Bill Colby demonstrated great courage, determination, and devotion to his country. As DCI, he used these qualities to guide the Agency through a difficult time. He faced up to severe challenges with openness and integrity. The people of the CIA and the Intelligence Community have lost an irreplaceable source of wisdom. We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and to the rest of his family.

 

 

An Introduction to the My Lai Courts-Martial
By Doug Linder

 

read it now !

 

Final Exam (Harvard University)
Historical Studies B-68: America and Vietnam, 1954-1975
May 23, 2001

 

some personal history

target practice