July 2, 2020

McNamara's Boys: Lost Innocence in Vietnam

McNamara's Boys: Lost Innocence in Vietnam

How the US government deliberately sent thousands of mentally-disabled men into combat during the Vietnam War. A bonus episode and companion to Episode 12: "The Good Guys".

How the US government deliberately sent thousands of mentally-disabled men into combat during the Vietnam War. A bonus episode and companion to Episode 12: "The Good Guys".



Gregory, Hamilton. McNamara's Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War. 2015. 

Hsiao, Lisa. “Project 100,000: The Great Society’s Answer to Military Manpower Needs in Vietnam”. 1989.

Hastings, Sir Max. Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy (1945-1975). 2018. 

Turse, Nick. Kill Anything That Moves. 2013.

Charles Rivers Editors. The My Lai Massacre. 2015. 

Jones, Howard. My Lai. 2015. 

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire In The Lake. 1972.

O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. 1990.


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Hello and welcome to Conflicted, the history podcast where we talk about the struggles that shaped us, the tough questions that they pose, and why we should car about any of it.


Conflicted is a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network, and I’m your host, Zach Cornwell.


Today’s show is a bonus episode, part of an ongoing series I’ve been calling Epilogues. As I’ve said before, the main purpose of these bonus shows is to expand upon the themes of a previous full-length episode, or just to explore issues or anecdotes that I had to leave on the cutting room floor.


Today’s Epilogue is a companion to Episode 12: The Good Guys, which catalogued the shocking, systemic pattern of atrocity and criminal negligence by the US Army in the Vietnam War. In that episode, our center of gravity, narratively, was the My Lai Massacre, in which American soldiers murdered upwards of 500 innocent men, women, and children over the course of 4 hours on March 16th 1968.


We also explored the flawed government policies and institutional arrogance that made a war crime like the My Lai massacre, and many others just like it, basically inevitable.


Today, we’re going to turn our focus towards something very closely related, but altogether unique.  Because the civilians of South Vietnam were not the only innocent victims of the US government’s feckless war in Vietnam. Today we’re going to be talking about victims that were much closer to home.


During the late 1960s, the Johnson Administration, in a well-intentioned, but foolishly conceived initiative called Project 100,000, sent countless mentally disabled and low-IQ men into combat, to die in a war they could barely understand. And I don’t mean “understand” in a political or ideological sense. I mean understand in the most basic sense of perception.


Some of these men couldn’t tie their shoes without help. They couldn’t read. They couldn’t comprehend basic commands or perform even the simplest tasks. Many had the cognitive capacity of children. They were scared, confused, and utterly without advocates to protect them. And the US government put them in uniforms, handed them fully automatic weapons, and sent them to die halfway across the world.


It was a monstrous crime against the American citizenry. One that most people don’t know about. Or talk about, for that matter. And in truth, it probably deserves its own full-length episode. But for now, this will have to do.


So with that preamble out of the way, let’s dive in and discover what this was all about.


Welcome to our second Conflicted Epilogue: McNamara’s Boys


-------- MUSIC INTERLUDE ---------


Imagine yourself walking through a toy store.  It’s the year 1970.


You’re walking through the aisles, past the dolls, the action figures, the little gadgets and guns, and you turn onto the board game aisle.


You’re walking along, looking up and down the shelves. They’ve got all the usual suspects. The classic American board games like like Monopoly, LIFE,  or Battleship. All the old favorites.


Then your eyes meander down towards the bottom shelf. The bargain bin. The section that has all the weird, rare games that weren’t particularly popular. And one of the games you might’ve have stumbled across was something called: “Beat The Draft”.


This was a very rare board game. Not many were created. Uou can actually still find them on Ebay, though. This game, manufactured and distributed in 1970, was fairly simple. The antagonist of the board game, was a character printed at the very center of the mat, a huge scowling Drill Sergeant, sitting at a desk. This character was called Sergeant Jones. And in the game, Sergeant Jones is trying to draft you, the Player, into the Army.


Into the Vietnam War, which in 1970, was at its zenith.


The object of the game was to avoid Sergeant Jones until enough time had passed, that your character turned 26 years of age in the game. Then you won. Or rather, you didn’t lose.


It’s a weird game. You can’t really find it anywhere. There are only the thinnest traces of its existence on the Internet, but this obscure board game is telling little window into the all-consuming national anxiety that gripped the United States during the Vietnam War.


As we discussed in Episode 12, The Good Guys, the war in Vietnam was not popular, especially in its later stages. Which created a huge recruitment problem. The United States military had always preferred to rely on volunteers to fill its ranks. Which makes sense; when it comes to people with guns, you want people who want to be there.

But Vietnam quickly gained a reputation as a conflict you did NOT want to volunteer for. It destroyed men, ground them up. And many veterans came home with PTSD and phantom limbs, rather than sparkling medals and thrilling war stories.


About 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. But 1/3 were compelled into joining the military through conscription, or The Draft.  Every able-bodied American male, from ages of 18-26, was eligible to be drafted. Although there were exceptions, which we’ll get into in a minute.


I actually remember getting my letter from the US government telling me that I had been automatically registered for the draft in 200…*mumble*. Not important.


It’s just a formality these days, everybody gets one last time I checked, but I remember what a sobering experience it was. To see it in black and white. Addressed to me, an adult. Not to my parents, but to me.


And I remember how alone I felt when I got it. The protective cocoon of my childhood and my wonderful, loving parents could not shield me from the needs of my country if it ever came to that. The Army could drag me away, put me in boot camp, and make me fight for a cause I didn’t know the first damn thing about.


Now imagine that letter isn’t just a formality, it’s real. And it’s a summons. Surprise, dude. You’re going to Vietnam. Say your goodbyes. Kiss your girlfriend Adios. See you in a few months. And most people who got these letters, were not idiots. They knew what awaited them in the jungles and wetlands of Southeast Asia.


But lots of people, especially in the Middle and Upper Classes, were not content to just quietly walk down to the Draft Board office.


Hypothetically, if I’d gotten that letter in 1966, there would’ve been many ways for me – a white, middle class guy, to get out of it. You’ll often hear about draft dodgers who fled to Canada or illegally avoided service. But there were many legal and legitimate ways to sidestep this bullet.


For example, you were automatically granted a deferment if you:

            -Were married with children.

            -Were enrolled in college or a university

            -Or were medically unfit.


And there were many among the wealthy and privileged who tried to game this system to avoid being drafted. Rich parents secured bogus medical deferments for their kids, or just straight-up bribed government officials to let their children off the hook.


As one college grad said later in life:


 “My family spent thousands of dollars to put me through college and law school. If I had joined the military and been killed in Vietnam, it would have been a waste of time and money.”


That quote is from former Vice President Dick Cheney.


People who didn’t have the power of the purse, got creative – by faking mental illness or sometimes gaining so much weight that they were undraftable. People like Jimi Hendrix, Jon Lithgow, and Ted Nugent were some of the famous faces who took the trickery route.  


Now, I’m not going to pass judgement on anyone, rich or poor, on the issue of dodging the draft to avoid fighting in a controversial conflict like Vietnam. Someday, I’ll do an entire full-length episode on the history of the Draft in United States, but for now, we’ll table that conversation.  


There was, however, a huge consequence of all these people sidestepping conscription. As one draftee named Paul Marx wrote:


“For every draft avoider, someone else was made to serve in order to meet the military’s quotas. That ‘someone else’ might very well have been killed in Vietnam. Many of America’s most accomplished young men were ready to pass the buck and let someone else—someone less sophisticated and knowledgeable—make the sacrifices while they pursued their personal ambitions.”


All of this avoidance and lack of volunteers presented the administration of President  Lyndon B. Johnson with a problem. The Vietnam War was escalating. The conflict was intensifying. And that meant that the need for fresh bodies, fresh soldiers, was skyrocketing as well.


But a huge factor in all of this, was politics. A looming re-election in fact. Lyndon B Johnson had not won the Presidency in a traditional sense. He’d been elevated to the big job when his boss, JFK, was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. So he really, really did not want to upset voters if he could avoid it.


And the voters he was most concerned about were white, middle-class, affluent voters. If he were to dip his hand into these white, suburban enclaves to fill the ranks and fight an unpopular war, he might lose his first real election. So he needed to find more men. More people to draft. From somewhere.


Well, his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, had a solution.


We talked about Robert McNamara a little bit in The Good Guys, and he’s a really interesting person. He was very, very smart. Any time he’s brought up, phrases like “whiz kid”, “wunderkind”, and “genius” often appear in the same sentence. But he also seemed to have a huge blind spot. He seemed to have a very difficult time being able to extrapolate his high-minded solutions, into what would actually happen on the ground.


What looks great on a whiteboard, often looks very, very different in the real world.


One of his most tragic, and underreported, blunders, - some people would say “crimes” - was something called “Project 100,000”.


The idea behind it was very simple, and at first glance, altruistic. One of the Johnson administration’s key domestic issues, was alleviating poverty in the United States. And one of the ideas they’d been floating around involved taking men who struggled to succeed in the private sector, and carving out a home for them within the American military. Under that umbrella, they could learn skills, a trade, something marketable. But they would also learn discipline, work ethic, and general good lessons for succeeding in life.


It was especially intended for men with cognitive deficiencies or mental handicaps, which kept them trapped in a cycle of, as McNamara described it, “idleness, ignorance, and apathy”. McNamara elaborated in a speech in 1966:

What these men badly need is a sense of personal achievement—a sense of succeeding at some task—a sense of their own intrinsic potential.... They have grown up in an atmosphere of drift and discouragement. It is not simply the sometimes-squalid ghettos of their external environment that has debilitated them—but an internal and more destructive ghetto of personal disillusionment and despair: a ghetto of the human spirit.

As President Johnson said:

“We’ll teach him to get up at daylight and work till dark and shave and bathe. And when we turn him out, we’ll have him prepared at least to drive a truck or bakery wagon or stand at a gate [as a guard].”

It's also worth noting, that there appears to have been a conflation by McNamara between the poverty-stricken and the mentally-challenged. It seems that he considered the two groups linked, or at least very closely related. And there was definitely plenty of overlap, but right from the outset, no one was approaching these issues with anything resembling nuance.

As good-intentioned as the overall idea might have been, many thought that putting mentally-deficient men into the military in any capacity was a really bad idea. Even immoral. As Texas congressman Charlies Wilson said:

“I believe that it is morally wrong for us to depend on the deprived and the unfortunate in our society to furnish the manpower for our country’s Armed Forces.”

To quote a study by Lisa Hsiao, most of the men who would be drafted as a result of Project 100,000:

came from economically unstable homes with non-traditional family structures. 70% came from low-income backgrounds, and 60% came from single­ parent families. Over 80% were high school dropouts, 40% read below a sixth-grade level, and 15% read below a fourth-grade level.

Normally, men with those kinds of mental and educational deficiencies would never have been considered for the armed forces. Not only because of concerns about their own safety, but for the safety of the men around them. In fact, many of them had already been rejected by Draft Boards for not meeting the minimum physical and mental requirements to qualify for service.

Well, all that changed after McNamara’s pet project kicked into gear. To accommodate the Project’s goal, which was to draft 100,000 men a year from these backgrounds, the military drastically lowered the testing standards.

The result was a massive influx of men into the US military who had absolutely no business being anywhere near a war zone.  

During the Vietnam War, anyone who was selected to be drafted into the US military was given an IQ test. Which, obviously measures your intelligence; it’s not perfect by any stretch, but it’s a decent indicator of where you fall on the cognitive spectrum.

There are five categories that you can fall into, based on your score. It ranges from Category 1, the highest, which is a score of 124 and higher, to Category V, which is a score of 71 or lower. Prior to Project 100,000, only men in the top 3 categories were allowed to be drafted. Afterwards, all five categories were open season.

A former draftee named David Caruso – not *that* David Caruso – said the army was:

“drafting anyone who could breathe.”

Category IV and V men would almost always miss a question like this on the test:

If a farmer had a bucket of 24 eggs and he stumbled and broke half of them, how many eggs would he have left?”

Technically, it was a Federal crime to admit a Category V man into the army. But many of the recruiters, eager to swell their quotas, used a loophole that allowed them to do it anyway. As one Veteran’s counselor name David Robinson said:

“The process was a farce—highly subjective, grossly unfair, an outrageous abuse of the law. A lot of men from the bottom of the barrel were accepted administratively just so that induction centers could ramp up the number of draftees for Vietnam.

This was a crime against the mentally disabled. Most of the Category V men who were sent into the Army under administrative acceptance were truly disabled. But they never protested, they never complained. How could they? They were the lowest of the low, the dumbest of the dumb. They were being railroaded to Vietnam, and they never had a clue.”

I do apologize for some of the less-than-politically-correct nomenclature some of these guys use, but at the time – in the 1960s, there just wasn’t a lot of awareness about the subtleties of mental health, mental illness, or mental disability. People were just either “crazy”, or stupid. In fact, men from Project 100,00 quickly became colloquially known among their peers as “McNamara’s Morons”.

A war correspondent and decorated Veteran Joseph Galloway summarized the problem. These men:

“…were, to put it bluntly, mentally deficient. Illiterate. Mostly black and redneck whites, hailing from the mean big city ghettos and the remote Appalachian valleys.

 By drafting them the Pentagon would not have to draft an equal number of middle class and elite college boys whose mothers could and would raise hell with their representatives in Washington.

The young men of Project 100,000 couldn’t read....They had to be taught to tie their boots. They often failed [in basic training], and were recycled over and over until they finally reached some low standard and were declared trained and ready.

They could not be taught any more demanding job than trigger-pulling, [so most of them] went straight into combat where the learning curve is steep and deadly. The cold, hard statistics say that these almost helpless young men died in action in the jungles at a rate three times higher than the average draftee....The Good Book says we must forgive those who trespass against us—but what about those who trespass against the most helpless among us; those willing to conscript the mentally handicapped, the most innocent, and turn them into cannon fodder?

In his book, “McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in Vietnam”, veteran Hamilton Gregory has assembled a heartbreaking menagerie of stories about these mentally disabled men who were drafted into the US army. He even tells a story about a man he went to boot camp with, one he tried to protect and watch over as best he could.

In the spring of 1967, at Fort Benning, Georgia, Gregory met a young recruit named Johnny Gupton. Almost immediately he realized Gupton was one of “McNamara’s Boys” as they were called:

He didn’t understand what basic training was all about, and he didn’t know that America was in a war. I tried to explain what was happening, but at the end, I could tell that he was still in a fog.

He did not know his home address. As for the name of a parent or loved one, the only thing I could elicit was “Granny”—

Gupton’s new combat boots provided a challenge. He could tie the laces, but the knot was primitive and ineffective. I tried to teach him how to make a standard knot, to no avail. So I ended up tying his boots every morning.

Another man Gregory met, a low-IQ recruit named Joe Tucker, was constantly tormented by drill sergeants. He had a really difficult time comprehending basic commands – he just didn’t understand what they wanted him to do. And this meant he was a target of cruel, incessant verbal abuse. Eventually, Joe Tucker snapped, screaming:

            “I just wanna go home! Why don’t you let me go home?”

Hamilton Gregory also met a young man named Freddie Hensley. Freddie was uncommonly handsome, and the drill sergeants started calling him “pretty boy”. But Freddie also had a very low IQ, he was a Category IV – normally, he never would’ve been qualified to be in the military or handle a rifle.

But as Hamilton Gregory notes in his book, people have a tendency to assume that attractive people are naturally competent. It’s just a lizard-brain thing that our minds instinctively do. We reflexively associate ugliness with stupidity. And attractiveness with intelligence.

The result was that everyone assumed Freddie was much smarter than he actually was.

He learned as best he could to clean, maintain, load, and fire the standard-issue M-14 rifle, but when it came time for the proficiency test, handsome Freddie just falls apart. He freezes up under the withering verbal abuse from the drill sergeant and stress of the time limit,. And he never fires a single shot.

Freddie’s mental deficiencies became clear to Hamilton Gregory one night during Boot Camp, when the two were watching a lightning storm. Freddie kept getting frightened at the loud noises, even after he was told they would always follow a flash of lightning. Freddie simply couldn’t understand that the two were connected in any way.

Years later, Gregory learned that Freddie had gone on to serve in a combat unit. One of the instructors had given him a passing grade on the rifle test despite his glaring failure. And Freddie was later killed in Vietnam.

Gregory remembered:

Freddie’s death hit me hard. I remembered how he was always sighing—an indication of the tremendous anxiety he experienced in Special Training. I remembered how he lacked the mental quickness to qualify with the M-14 rifle. I felt enormous anger, which I still feel decades later. He never should have been drafted. He never should have been “administratively passed” at Special Training. He never should have been sent into combat.

It's tempting to think of the US military as the predator in this situation, but for the most part they hated Project 100,000. They resented being used as guinea pigs in McNamara’s social experiment.

As Lieutenant Paul D. Walker complained:

“These men were virtually untrainable and should never have been allowed into the military, and certainly not sent into combat. Their presence made my job more difficult.”

One less-than-tactful Captain named Bosch said of a Low-IQ recruit:  

“Can you believe this idiot was drafted? I tell you who else is an idiot. Fuckin’ Robert McNamara. How can he expect us to win a war if we draft these morons?”

Obviously that’s not the most sensitive take on the problem, but his point was valid. As a reserve Air Force Captain, named William F. Walsh wrote:

“Warfare is steadily growing more complex. The day is past when an effective soldier needed only the intelligence to point a musket downhill and obey the order, ‘Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes.’ Service in the Armed Forces today requires an alert, questioning mind simply to master the technology of weapons and tactics.... There is likely to be no room for the low-IQ soldier, the ‘warm body’ who cannot—or will not— ‘cut the mustard.’ That man... is going to get in the way of those who will have to do the job.”

One Lieutenant said:

You don’t have to be a Fulbright Scholar to be a good rifleman (some of the best warriors I know have a fourth-grade education), but you can’t be stupid.”

And Colonel David Hackworth summarized:

“Ten smart-and-fit soldiers are better than 100 out-of-shape dummies. Project 100,000 was implemented to produce more grunts for the killing fields of Vietnam. It took unfit recruits from the bottom of the barrel and rushed them to Vietnam. The result was human applesauce.”

That’s a colorful phrase for carnage if I’ve ever heard one, but that Colonel was right. The fatality rate of men from McNamara’s program was three times higher than that of ordinary GIs.

Hamilton Gregory tells a story of one of these men killed in combat:

While serving as a battalion commander in Vietnam, Brigadier General William Weise watched a squad leader give an order for an ambush patrol. The squad leader gave a simple, clear order, but one Marine couldn’t remember any of the crucial details, including the password. That night, this Marine left the ambush to relieve himself without telling anyone. When returning, he wandered into the kill zone. The squad leader sprang the ambush and his squad killed him.”

Tragically, these men not only posed a danger to themselves, but to those around them. A veteran named William S Tuttle observed:

“If you take someone with an IQ of 40 and give him a rifle, he’s more dangerous to you than he is to the enemy. I almost got shot twice and had one guy almost nail me with a LA W [light anti-armor weapon] when he was startled by a sudden noise. If you put [a low-IQ man] in an infantry patrol, you have to spend most of your time making sure he doesn’t kill a friendly [a comrade] by accident, and doesn’t get himself killed during contact because he’s totally unaware of what’s going on around him. Imagine sending a five-year-old into combat. That’s what Project 100,000 was all about.”



Another veteran remembered a man from his platoon:

“There was this real goofy dude who hadn’t been in country very long didn’t have his M-16 safety on. They were coming up a little knoll that was real steep and muddy, and this guy’s M-16 discharged accidentally and shot another guy in the foot. The M-16 round tumbles. It isn’t a clean round, it is a messy round. It went in his foot and came out in his leg and he died of shock. He had something like two weeks to go [before leaving Vietnam].”

An infantry platoon leader named Robert Nylen remembered another tragic incident involving one of Mcnamara’s Boys in August 1968.

 “For several days, a private in Robert McNamara’s ‘breathe-and-you’re-in’ Army had played the same grotesque joke.” He pulled the pin on a hand grenade and then rolled the grenade toward his mates. “The first time he pulled this depraved stunt, his mates scattered, terrified. Nothing happened.” The man laughed, explaining that he had disabled the grenade (by pulling out the detonator cylinder), and “his goggle-eyed mates pummeled him: ‘Never again, Bozo!’ He played the same trick the next day; this time, his mates beat him harder. The third day he pulled his idiotic stunt, his mates flinched, sighed, muttered, and kept eating. They wouldn’t fall for the lame gag again.” But this time, the man had forgotten to disable the grenade. It exploded, killing two soldiers and wounding several others.

As Lieutenant Colonel John Goss observed, Project 100,000 was:

“a disaster for those who actually had to serve with and supervise these soldiers.”

The way these men were treated during their time in the military varied wildly. Some were the targets of hatred and anger, blamed for their mistakes and targeted for their incompetence. But they couldn’t help it. It wasn’t their fault they’d been press-ganged into a job they weren’t qualified for. Well that didn’t matter to some of the men who served alongside them.

Some of these mentally-handicapped men became such a burden, that their fellow soldiers deliberately put them in harms way, so that they would be killed and no longer pose any threat. As one soldier commented:

“if anybody has to die, better a dummy than the rest of us.”

But as I stressed in Episode 12, the US military was not a monolith, and there were many many good people sprinkled in among the bad. Good people who tried to watch over and protect these mentally-handicapped soldiers.

A commander named Gary B Roberts deliberately transferred some of these men under his command:

I just kept them with me [in platoon headquarters] to watch them to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves, hurt anybody else, or have somebody else shoot them just to get rid of them.”

There’s one really touching story about a low-IQ soldier named Mike Sanchez. Mike was drafted and sent to Vietnam, despite the fact that he was illiterate and had the mental capacity of a child. Well, while he was over there, Mike developed a very close relationship with his commanding officer, a platoon leader. The platoon leader was a kind man who looked after Mike, shielded him from ridicule and tried to teach him as best he could. Well one day during an ambush, the platoon leader was hit.

As Jim Bracewell, a helicopter pilot remembered:

“As soon as they reached cover, Mike looked for his lieutenant. He couldn’t find him. He frantically began calling the platoon leader’s name. One of the other soldiers told Mike to stop yelling, that he had seen the lieutenant go down, and he thought he was dead. Mike tearfully asked where he was. When he pinpointed the lieutenant’s position, he shed his equipment (including his rifle) and ran through heavy fire to his lieutenant. He scrambled to his young leader’s side, and discovered that he was badly hit in both legs. He made no attempt at first aid—it never occurred to him. He simply picked up the lieutenant as if he were a doll and ran back to the tree line. Neither of them were hit during their dash to the trees, and no one could believe it considering the intensity of enemy fire. They said the pattern of bullets hitting the rice paddy water all around them made it seem impossible that they were not hit. The lieutenant received first aid, and a short time later was evacuated by helicopter. He survived.”

Mike Sanchez later won the Silver Star for heroism. He was transferred out of his combat unit and later learned to be barber in his hometown. As one of his mentors noted:

“If anything good ever came out of that time in our history, it was the good fortune that came Mike Sanchez’ way. As it turned out for Mike, his being at the wrong place at the wrong time actually was the right place at the right time. He was a bona fide hero, and he shouldn’t even have been there!”


Over the course of the Vietnam War, Project 100,000 drafted 345,000 low-IQ men into the armed forces. 5,478 of those men died in combat. 20,000 were wounded. 500 became amputees.

Robert McNamara never expressed any regret for the outcome of Project 100,000. Whether that came from a place willful ignorance, or just stubborn arrogance, it’s hard to know for sure.

Many of the men who served with McNamara’s Boy despised the Secretary of Defense for his role in putting these vulnerable men in harm’s way. One veteran said that McNamara: “deserved to burn in hell” for what he did.

But it’s also difficult to know if the Program was born from a genuine altruism, a genuine desire to improve the lives of mentally-disabled and poverty-stricken men. Or if they merely served as convenient sacrificial lambs to spare the rich and powerful from having to risk their own sons in pursuit of the national interest.

Whatever the case, the Project was a failure by its own standards. As a pair of senior government officials said:

“It was a failure for the recruits themselves. They never got the training that military service seemed to promise. They were the last to be promoted and the first to be sent to Vietnam. They saw more than their share of combat and got more than their share of bad discharges. Many ended up with greater difficulties in civilian society than when they started. For them, it was an ironic and tragic conclusion to a program that promised special treatment and a brighter future, and denied both.”

In our full-length episode on Vietnam, The Good Guys, we discussed the My Lai Massacre, in which US soldiers led by Lieutenant William Calley, murdered over 500 innocent civilians, mostly elderly people and children, on March 16th 1968.

In the post-mortem dissection of that monstrous war crime, it was discovered that William Calley had only been given his officer’s commission, and thus his ability to lead and command men, because of the relaxed standards of the US military.

Calley wasn’t a Category IV or V man, but according to a US army office Richard A. Gabriel:

“Even the staunchest defenders of the Army agree that in normal times a man of Lieutenant Calley’s intelligence and predispositions would never have been allowed to hold a commission.”

This has been a Conflicted Epilogue. Thanks for listening.