ed. Frank Browning and Dorothy Forman (New York, 1972)

Questions to Consider

  1. According to the eyewitnesses, what was the American role in Vietnam?
  2. What was the impact of the American high technology warfare?
  3. how did this affect the war's outcome?  Could the war have been fought differently?
  4. What does this report reveal about American involvement in the Vietnam War?

Mrs. Sida    [Mrs. Sida is a middle-Age Laotian woman who watched American soldiers kill her husband and her children in the summer of 1969]

    On March 26, 1969, toward noon, that day there were nine people at home, one of my children being at school; since we heard the roar of a large number of airplanes, we ran towards a little shelter located about 10 meters from the house.  The bombs exploded around our shelter causing some terrible shaking, earthslides were falling from above, and we saw some flashes passing through our shelter like we were in a storm.  We thought that if we stayed in the little shelter we would not be safe and that is why we decided to move to a large shelter 20 meters away.  The noise of the planes had become quiet, each of us took with himself the smallest children and we ran toward the large shelter:  We had nearly reached it when the planes swept back and dropped bombs near us, killing my husband's sister on the spot and wounding the child whom she carried....In running behind my husband I was hit in the right thigh, in the left arm, and I had a fractured tibia, without counting many other places on my body....

    Toward the end of the Month of September the U.S. imperialists and the commando pirates of Vang Pao had attacked and ravaged savagely our temporary commune.  That is why the people of the commune had decided to evacuate toward a safer place....I walked slowly behind with the old people.  My husband, with his mother, walked in front with the children carrying the supplies.  At each stop my husband, having set down the children and the supplies, after having told the children to wait for him, came back to help me catch up with them.  Halfway there - I walked always behind with the old people and sick people - I heard gunshot, shrieks and cries, and I saw many people fall in front of me.  Seeing myself in such a situation I looked for refuge on the riverbank, hiding myself in the bushes and behind a rock, and I saw from my refuge the pirate soldiers of Vang Pao and the Americans who had rounded up the people in one place.  I had seen one of the soldiers snatch a small child from the hands of his mother:  the mother ran forward to grab the child, but the solder ran her through with a bayonet.  The soldier knocked the child against a tree; myself, I hid all the way through in my refuge behind the brush and the rock.  I looked for my husband; I saw only one of my children near my husband.  As to my husband's mother and my other three children I could no longer see them near my husband.  I saw the soldiers grab my child from the hands of his father, my husband jumped to take back the child, but the soldiers shot my husband and the boy.  (Here Mrs. Sida had to stop for a moment, for she was crying too much to continue.)...

Dang Kim Phung  [Miss Dang Kim Phung, a South Vietnamese woman from Gia Dinh province....]

    The American GIs and the puppet troops are very savage.  They have massacred the members of my family and tortured me.  Two of my uncles were killed.  One was shot dead, and one was decapitated.  This was done by the U.S. and the puppet troops and his body was thrown into a well.  One of my aunts was killed by a shell splinter.  One of my little brothers was killed by toxic chemicals, I myself was three times the victim of U.S. atrocities.  Once I was wounded by the U.S. artillery, and the splinter is still in my leg....

    I still remember the day I was poisoned by toxic chemicals.  It was the 24th of June, 1968.  It was 8 A.M.  A reconnaissance plane whirled over and over my region.  It fired a rocket.  My friends and I immediately took refuge in an underground shelter.  Then three low-flying helicopters went over.  They dropped barrels of toxic chemicals.  One barrel of these chemicals was dropped over the other end of the underground tunnel, and the size of this barrel was about 250 liters.  When this toxic chemical...hit the end of the shelter, smoke began to enter the shelter, and we were stifling in the tunnel.  We tried to get out of the shelter, but then we started coughing and spitting blood.  Our skins became quickly covered with blisters.  A few days later I felt very tired.  Even a week later I lost my appetite and had diarrhea no matter what I ate.  Now these evil effects are still being felt by me.  My sight is blurred, and I have many digestive difficulties, often diarrhea...

    On the 16th of February, 1969....At about 7 A.M. a reconnaissance plane circled over and over my village and fired a rocket.  Then three jet planes went over.  These three bombers fired exploding bombs in a large area, at high velocity for a long time - steel pellet bombs.  When the bombing was almost over I went out of the shelter and I saw that everything was destroyed and the trees were torn down.  Then three more jet places came over and began to bomb.  There were incendiary bombs.  One of these bombs fell directly into my house.  One of these incendiary products stuck to my trousers.  And to my face.  Then I stripped off my clothes and took refuge.  Then I fainted.  I knew nothing.

    More than a week later I recovered consciousness and found myself in the district hospital.  For the first month after that I could see nothing.  My eyes were covered with liquids.  I could not open my mouth....Five and six months later, still my wounds could not be healed, and we had to patch the wound up with a piece of skin....The days I spent in the hospital were the saddest and most dramatic days of my life because I was a young and sound girl, and it is because of the U.S. atrocities that I became an invalid and wounded for life.