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Friday, May 05, 2006

"Our Descent into Hell has Begun" - Message from a Vet of My Lai Time

A few weeks ago we got a friendly letter from Tony Swindell, a newspaper editor in Sherman, Texas. "Begin paying attention," Swindell urged, ''to stories from Iraq like the very recent one about U.S. Marines killing a group of civilians near Baghdad. This is the next step in the Iraq war as frustration among our soldiers grows -- especially with multiple tours.
''I served with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, and My Lai was not an isolated incident. We came to be known as the Butcher's Brigade, and we also were the birthplace of the Phoenix Program. The brigade commander and a battalion commander were charged with murdering civilians (shooting them from helicopters, recorded in some of my photos), although both skated. If you recall from his autobiography, Colin Powell served briefly with the 11th in Duc Pho before going to division HQ in Chu Lai.
''The atrocities against Iraqi civilians are slipping under the media radar screen, but they're going to explode in America's face not too long from now and dwarf the Abu Ghraib (sic) incident. That was a fraternity beer bust by comparison. The Ft. Sill episode [described in JoAnn Wypijewski's piece from April, "The Army Slays Its Own"] is another one of the same storm clouds on the horizon. I sincerely fear for our country.''
We asked Swindell to expand these thoughts. Here's his powerful response. AC/JSC


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