Regular Americans Speak Out Part 14 Child and Marine Deserter

A series of essays from various regular Americans on love, work, and life in these United States including a child and a marine deserter.

America Speaks

ULF S., child, aged 2 years 10 months, New Haven, Conn.

"I hurt my leg and I tell my mommy. I got a scratch and she put Band-Aid on it. And I put Band-Aid on my hand. And I went on a good truck ride. I fall down in the truck, and the car run over me. And I hurt myself in the street, and it was a bone. I got in the truck and the man shut the door so I won't fall out the truck. And then I bumped my head in the truck. Then I ride in the airplane and go to my grandpa." (From: Children Tell Stories by Pitcher and Prelinger. New York, International Universities Press, 1963.)


ex-Marine, deserter, now living in Sweden

"I had a strong hunch I was on my way to Nam. But I couldn't tell my mother that. 'Mama, I'm going back there, probably I need a little more training. Probably I'll have to learn to say "kill" a few more times, and then everything will be all right.' She said, 'Son, you're going to Vietnam.' I said, 'No, no, just going back for more training. ...'

"When we got back to Lejeune the guys laid it on us. They said, 'I guess you know you're going to Hot Nam.' I was for the war then. I was scared but I didn't want to show it, and I said, 'O.K., let me go over there and kill a couple of gooks. ...'

"Some guy had stepped on a booby trap and they were calling for evacuation--for a helicopter to take him. So we had to set up a ring--for the helicopter to land--to guard the helicopter. I just happened to be standing alongside the officer when the radio man said, 'Look, sir, we got children rounded up. What do you want us to do with them?' The guy says, 'Goddam it, marine, you know what to do with them. Kill the bastards. If you ain't got the goddam balls to kill them, marine, I'll come down there and kill the motherfuckers myself.' The marine said, 'Yes, sir,' and hung up the phone. About 2 or 3 minutes later I heard a lot of automatic fire--and a lot of children's screaming. I heard babies crying. I heard children screaming their fucking lungs out. I heard 'em. And that got next to me. I heard a machine gun go off. You know a machine gun when you hear it. There were a lot of children. It lasted only 20 or 30 seconds. We didn't, they didn't get all the children, though. 'Cause the next day we went into some other hamlets. And I saw a little girl. It really bugged me--I knew her parents had been killed. She had her little brother with her. It had to be her little brother. She was carrying him. She was just standing there--like 'What is going on?' She saw us tear the hamlet apart. ... This little girl is standing there looking at us. She don't know what to say. As we walk by she's just looking at us. Her little brother is crying, but she's just looking at us, sort of puzzled. Sort of in a daze. She was about 5 or 6 years old. The baby was less than a year old. We left her under the tree. I don't know--I'm scared to say--but I think they killed that kid. I left. I didn't want to see it. I knew some guy was going to come along and shoot her while I was standing there--and I couldn't stand to see that. So I left. I'm sure some guy killed her.

"That was the only huge massacre I was in." (From: Conversations with Americans by Mark Lane. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1970.)

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