Regular Americans Speak Out Part 5 Househusband and Police Officer

A series of essays from various regular Americans on love, work, and life in these United States including a house-husband and a police officer.

America Speaks

KENNETH RUTH, police officer, formerly with the 1st Air Cavalry Division

"First of all we go into the village and ask people who they think are Viet Cong. So we were given 2 people that we were told were Viet Cong. What we do, is we took these 2 guys out in the field and we strung one of 'em up in a tree by his arms, tied his hands behind him, and then hung him in the tree. Now what we did to this man when we strung him up is that he was stripped of all his clothes, and then they tied a string around his testicles and a man backed up about 10' and told him what would happen if he didn't answer any questions the way they saw fit. Now all we had to go by was that we were told that he was a suspect by other villagers. Now the other villagers weren't going to point out themselves, and somebody had to be pointed out.

"So they'd ask a guy a question: 'Do you know of any enemy units in this area?' and if he said, 'No,' the guy that was holding that string would just yank on it as hard as he could about 10 times, and this guy would be just flying all over the place in pain. And this is what they used--I mean anybody's just going to say anything in a situation like this to get answers out of him. And then when they were done, when the guy was just limp and hanging there, the South Vietnamese indigenous troops, who worked with the Special Forces, went up there and then to get kicks, would run their knife through his ear and carve little superficial wounds on his body, not deep ones, but just you know, trickle it down his body to make fun of the guy. We took a guy to the other end of the village, and we didn't do this, all we did was burn his penis with a cigarette to get answers out of him. I'm sure people understand what that would be like if it was done to yourself or to your children.

"This is just one of the things I saw. I could just go on all day. All of us could. . . . It isn't just Lieutenant Calley." (From: The Winter Soldier Investigation by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Boston, Beacon Press, 1972.)

FRED ROSEN, househusband, Rifton, N.Y.

"Running my high school half mile, I notice that coming to the final turn I'm still side by side with the great Clark High School half miler (whose name I still remember: Kanapacik!) and to this day, 14 years later, that moment is engraved on my memory. . . . And the locker room after track meets, the great comradery, throwing soap, snapping towels. . . . And, like the moment on the far turn, I still remember a great summer camp slide into 3rd, a basket from the corner in the Police Boys Club. . . . But clearest of all is the pop fly I dropped in a junior high school game letting in the winning run; nobody on my team would talk to me for days. . . . And 18 years later I still think to myself, 'Why didn't I put my arm up to shade the sun? . . . Why didn't I just try to catch the ball instead of trying for a Willie Mays basket catch?' And not only do I still think it, but I agonize over it." (From: "Confessions of a Straightman," Win, April 11, 1974.)

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