Winter Soldier ’71, Winter Soldier ’08 Testimony, Congress May 15th

I was still in ‘Nam, counting down the days, real short, in returning back to ‘The World’ and my discharge after 4years of service, when ‘Winter Soldier Investigation ’71’ took place.

The Congressional Testimony than would follow the Detriot testimony of my brother ‘Nam Vets who had already returned from that Debacle and Occupation!

Sadly the Country that said, almost as one {many of us ‘Nam Vets said we would never allow again} we would remember the lessons of, We Didn’t, and history repeats!

Winter Soldier Investigations ’71

The soldier who saw hell

Winter Soldier is a harrowing film in which Vietnam veterans confess to atrocities. How did it come about? John Patterson finds out

Shattering testimonies… Winter Soldier

His testimony was shocking, yet he still believed in the war. The year was 1971 and Scott Camil, a marine just back from 20 months in Vietnam, wanted to talk about what he had seen and done there: “My testimony involves burning of villages with civilians in them, the cutting off of ears, cutting off of heads, torturing of prisoners, calling in of artillery on villages for games, corpsmen killing wounded prisoners … ”

In agonising, often sickening detail, Camil talked about these things for a long time. David Grubin, whose camera was filming the marine, was stunned. Grubin had come to Detroit, Michigan, to film three days of testimony by soldiers, marines and airmen who had recently returned from south-east Asia and were anxious to speak publicly about war crimes and atrocities they had both witnessed and committed. Named in homage to a Tom Paine remark about “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots”, the Winter Soldier Investigations were organised by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, in which future Senator John Kerry was a leading figure. “Camil’s testimony was a total shock to me,” Grubin recalls. “I was so innocent and naive. I went along with strong political convictions, and it became a profound emotional experience.”

Winter Soldier – the documentary about the investigations that Grubin was helping to make – would have a profound effect on Camil, who later wrote that it was “more pivotal to me than any experience in my life except for Vietnam”. He added: “It was the way the film-makers conducted their interviews that made me think, look at the big picture, and understand that the Vietnamese were humans. They asked the right questions, and I owe them a debt of gratitude.”

We, a Nation who’s inhabitants come mostly from immigrants of other countries {we tried our damdest to exterminate the natives of this land}, mostly europe, at first, but now from all over the world, are roots are everywhere, seem to think that because we were born in this country we are somehow Superior to those who live everywhere else. We Aren’t, we are the same Human Animals as all the others that exist around this planet! And we most certainly are not any more moral nor tolerant than others.

The shattering testimony continued: beheadings, heads on pikes, ears traded for beers, disembowelment, mass rapes, the murder of children for throwing stones at troops, of the elderly, of anyone in the so-called “free-fire zones”. The long-haired, bearded vets look like hippies, not soldiers, but they have seen and done things that have put them way beyond peace and love, or tears of regret.

When sent to Create Hell we do as we readily accuse others of, make that Hell Worse and True to it’s Meaning!

After a few arthouse showings in 1972, Winter Soldier simply disappeared. When the movie was rereleased in the US in 2005 – partly in response to attempts, in the 2004 election, to smear John Kerry over his war record – a special screening was held, with the crew and the vets. “We didn’t realise that the theatre was also filled with Afghanistan and Iraq vets,” says Kopple. “The Iraq guys got up and spoke with the Vietnam vets, and their stories were so similar, the cadences of their voices were exactly the same. It was remarkable.”

War and the Warrior never change, just the bodies that are sent to invade and occupy!

In March this year, Winter Soldier: Afghanistan and Iraq was convened in Silver Spring, Maryland. Much of the testimony, from 200 veterans, offered a chilling echo of its Vietnam forerunner. It was filmed by David Zeiger – who directed Sir! No Sir!, an extraordinary history of insubordination, mutinies and troop rebellions in Vietnam – so it should be in good hands. The only mainstream news outlet that bothered to show up was the Washington Post.

·Winter Soldier is out now!

VFP E-Bulletin – Winter Soldiers Testify Before Congressional Progressive Caucus

On May 15, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War will testify under oath about the realities of the illegal occupations in Iraq – providing the Congressional Progressive Caucus with an important and critical tool to make their long-standing promise{PDF} to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq a reality now.

Congress will have the opportunity to hear the testimony first offered publicly in March of this year at Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, when over 45 members of IVAW shared eyewitness accounts of the occupations before their peers, their families and the American public just outside our nation’s capitol at the National Labor College. Over 30 hours of testimony was made available live online, over the radio and via cable television that weekend, and remains available in broadcast quality footage at the IVAW website.

By bringing Winter Soldier finally inside the Capitol, IVAW hopes to further encourage veterans to tell their stories to Congress and the public at large. Congress has heard from their fellow politicians, from the pundits and the generals, but not until now have they heard from the average boots on ground soldier who has been asked to fight this occupation largely alone. Bringing Winter Soldier to The Hill will bring the voices of constituents too long silenced before their elected representatives, while Congress debates (more than likely for the last time during the Bush-Cheney administration) the funding for the Iraq occupation.

Please support the Winter Soldier testifiers by calling Progressive Caucus members today!

There are Progressive Caucus members in nearly every state. Urge them to listen carefully on Thursday and show their support for the troops by bringing them home now. Call yours today and ask:

(1) What are you doing to insure a timeline is created that will bring all the troops home, and when do you expect that clock to begin?

(The Caucus released a statement in September of 2007 in opposition to any future bills or amendments that would not include a 6-month timeline for the removal of all troops.)

(2) What are you doing to increase funding and ensure universal access to adequate health care for all returning veterans?

(3) How are you informing your constituency about the Winter Soldier Eyewitness accounts?

If you are interested in attending, please read this {PDF}

1 comment

  1. …posted this.  Thanks!

Comments have been disabled.