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November 16, 1969 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-11-16

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a
special
feature

the

Sunday

daily

by
howard
kohn

Number 16

Night Editor: Jim Neubacher

November 16, 1969

Harvey Schiller flew more than 1000 missions over Viet-
nam - dropping supplies, evacuating wounded and defoliating
jungle cover. He volunteered for Vietnam and spent a year X
based at Ton Son Nhut, near Saigon.
New York-born, Schiller graduated from The Citadel in
1960, a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC programs
and an honors student in chemistry. After earning his mas-
ters degree in chemistry at the University, Schiller entered
pilot school in 1962. He returned from Vietnam in 1967 and
taught for a year at the Air Force Academy. Today Harvey
Schiller is back at the University, working on his doctorate in
chemistry and playing with the Rugby Club.
He is still an Air Force captain, though, and is a liason of-
ficer for several lieutenants who are also studying here. Schil-
ler has two years of directed flying assignments left to go and
expects to do some of them over Vietnam.
"I would hesitate to volunteer for Viet-
2>, nom now. It's a pretty morbid sight
sometimes. But I believe strongly in
4 service to my country."

Lon Louty wanted a military career because his father had
been 4-F during World War II. "I felt I had a job to do for two
people," he says.
A After high school graduation in Columbus, Ohio, he en-
rolled in the Coast Guard. He dropped out when "I found out
I'd have to spend two years with icebergs." Transferring to
Ohio University, he joined Army ROTC and was voted the out-
standing cadet in the program. He won several medals and a
promotion to batallion commander before graduating in 1968
with honors in architecture and design.
Today Lon Louty is a graduate student and teaching fel-
low in A & D at the University - still appalled at his nine
months of active duty.
7. He does not regret his resignation from the Army.
44
"I could not order my men to get
killed for a war that wasn't moral. In
ROTC, we learned to lead. In the
Army, they teach you to order."

A

-Daily--Jay Casddy

-Daily-Jerry Wechsler

CAPT. HARVEY SCHILLER flew C-123's,
slow-moving planes left over from pre-
vious wars, in the 309th Air Commando
Squadron-air counterpart of the Green
Berets. His squadron was hit more times
than all the others combined. Once he was
hit 60 times on a single mission.
Perhaps that is why Schiller can be non-
chalant about the fighting which perpetuates
itself each day in Vietnam. This is a war
where men die from bullets that seem to
come from nowhere for reasons that seem
to go nowhere, and the only sanity is in
staying alive.
Schiller saw Vietnam in 1966, just before
the fiercest fighting of the war. He had
volunteered for Vietnam almost two years
before, when the United States was com-
mitted only to an advisory role.
Now 30, married, father of a year-old
daughter, prematurely gray but still lean
and athletic, Schiller is the picture of the
Air Force captain in recruiting brochures.
His spare time is devoted to rugby prac-
tice, and he is captain of the University's
Rugby Club.
BUT SCHILLER is still very much aware
of the war. And he is still convinced
of the need for the military in Vietnam.
"Sure, I believe in the domino theory." he
says.
He argues this, knowing and understand-
ing the arguments pro and con. "I can't
really make any value judgment on which
government is better for Vietnam, North or
South," he admits. "And I know life isn't
going to change much for the people there,
whether we win or lose . . . except for those
who have their hands in American pockets."
Schiller harbors neither romantic nor
chauvinistic views on Vietnam; he is con-
summately pragmatic. He does not begrudge
his time or even the lives of his comrades
if American foreign policy or government
orders it.
He does not, for instance, bicker about
the "-rule which forbids servicemen in the
Vietnam war zone from visiting the con-
tinental United States on leave. "It's a rule
just like any other rule," he says, discoun-
ting the suggestion it keeps pfc's from get-
ting another perspective on Vietnam. In
fact, the rule really is designed to curb
desertion, he reasons.
Ideally, Schiller would like the military
to be a uniformed peacekeeping corps-
"keeping a finger in the dike against Com-
munism"--the original, containment ra-
tionale for involvement in Vietnam.
WTHAT UPSETS him about the war is the
military's disrespect and disregard for
the boots in the field. American, Filippino,
Korean and South Vietnamese top hats are
getting fat on the black market. "Some guys
make $100,000 a year while us weenies are
getting ourselves killed."
Schiller joins in criticizing the service
clubs (along, incidentally, with the Senate
subcommittee of Abraham Ribicoff which
has drawn headlines by interviewing leggy
Austrialian blondes and investigating peanut
suppliers). Although the clubs are run by

enough fuel to take them one stop at a time
so they could load more people or supplies.
Schiller's squadron strung out a life-and-
death line to the GI's.
In return for the food and ammo shipped
in came the bodies of the American and
Viet dead. He had to wear a surgeon's mask
or rub Vick's ointment on his nose to endure
the smell. Once again, he found, the Army
doesn't always care about its infantrymen--
especially dead ones-as it should.
Instead of medical corpsmen, the Army
assigns quartermasters-to cart out the dead.
"I got chewed out by some hospital com-
mander because I called him to fly out a
body," Schiller says. "He didn't want any-
thing to do with it."
Sometimes Schiller helped move troops as
the battles shifted. Only 44 Americans could
fit in a plane, but almost 200 Vietnamese
could squeeze in. "They're very tiny people,"
he explains.
Vietnamese wives and children, who live
with their men wherever they go, are flown
in separately to keep desertions down. But
even in 1966, Schiller agrees, Vietnamese
desertions were extremely high. "Guards
were often too sympathetic or too sleepy
to stop them," he says.
AFTER EACH flight, Schiller had to clean
out his plane, since saboteurs-in the
guise of Viet regulars-would leave behind
time grenades or bombs.
"Most Vietnamese don't like the Amer-
icans, and most Americans don't like the
Vietnamese," he acknowledges. "They're re-
sentful because we carry our social ills t'ith
us.
"The guy who beats up kids in alleys over
here does the same thing over there. The
same goes with the guy that yells 'nigger'
over here-he's just as bigoted over there."
"The Vietnamese make us very aware
we're there at their pleasure."
Schiller laughs now at some of the ab-
surdities which cropped up in his missions to
the villages. Several times he flew 10,000 lbs.
of rice grown on the Mississippi Delta to
people whose rice paddies had been bombed.
Another time he dropped peanut oil, with
the various instructions written in Spanish
because it had been intended as South
American aid.
Schiller travelled as far west as Duong
Dong, an island off Cambodia, and as far
north as Hue and saw almost all visages of
Viet life. He has a feeling for Vietnamese
mores.
"If a popular election were held right
now, General Ky would win," he remarks
suddenly. "You know why? Because he's the
handsomest man in the government and the
Vietnamese are a vain people. Everything
else has been taken away from them, so they
have only their vanity left."
Schiller says the South fears potential
persecution from the North, should the Viet
Cong win militarily. But already in 1966,
he says, many Southerners felt they couldn't
be persecuted anymore than they were by
the war.
If called upon to go back to Vietnam, as

Vietnam

parallel

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72L-
--a-

LAST FALL seven non-coms at Ft. Ben-
ning, Georgia refused to go to Vietnam.
Two were courtmartialed for smoking pot;
both are still in the Army, one is still in the
Army, one is still in the brig, Two suffered
mental breakdowns; one stood up on a live
firing range but still hasn't been discharg-
ed, the other was released. Three were giv-
en general discharges.
Lon Louty was on of the fortunate three
whose resignations were accepted without
penalty.
Louty had been in the Army only four
months when he quit. He had always been
anti-Vietnam. Now he is anti-military, too.
But he is still pro-establishment.
Louty, who expected to work in cities as
a commissioned civil engineer after grad-
uation from ROTC, explains he "thought
the military was more than a slaughter-
house." "I thought you could be a military
man without being a butcher."
HIS ARCHITECTURE professors at Ohio
University were the first to challenge
that idea. "They said ROTC stood for the
forces of destruction, while architecture
stood for creation," he recalls. "But I ra-
tionalized it all away.
"My ROTC instructors had told me,
'Don't worry, you won't have to fight, not
with your grades and expertise.' That was
bullshit." Later, after he'd been commis-
sioned a second lieutenant, Louty was told
he'd have to serve time in Vietnam.
Confronted with Vietnam as a personal
dilemma, Louty decided to get it over with
and then get out of the Army. He resigned
his commission in June, 1968, shortly after
graduation - over the protests of his
ROTC commander who earns demerits every
time a junior officer resigns.
As a non-coin, Louty had to deal with
the Army's kick-'em-in-the-kidney corps,
rather than ROTC's "effete" academicians.
The regular Army officers crawled through
the underbrush of Guam or the swamps of
Vietnam to get on top.-
"HEY DO NOT like anyone who resents
going to Vietnam. The 54th Infantry
at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where Louty w a s
sent in June, turned into a perplexing hell.
No one met him and his wife with cheer-
ful greetings. In fact, no one had even ar-
ranged housing for them. His first assign-
ment was funeral duty with several Viet-
nam veterans.
"We were supposed to comfort bereaved
mothers and widows," he laughs derisively.
"They gave us prepared speeches where we
just filled in the names. Most of these guys
were so calloused after being in Vietnam
they would bet on when the women would
start to crack up. Usually it was when they
played taps or when they put the flag on
the casket.
"Once a woman ripped the flag off and
spit on it and swore at us. That wasn't
supposed to happen. It was pretty hairy
and shook up everybody."
Louty was put in charge of a company
pregnant with young draftees, many from

"I couldn't shoot a man for stealing a
television set," he says. "That equates the
value of his life to the price of the TV."
Feeling the cross-pressures at having
'copped out" on his first mission, Louty
decided to confide in his chaplain. With-
in an hour, a report censuring him was on
his captain's desk.
"I was chewed out for expressing moral
doubts about the military," Louty says.
"That wasn't so bad, but the chaplain was
supposed to listen to me in confidence."
What was supposed to be, as recorded in
ROTC textbooks, was seldom what was,
Louty found out. He became embittered
and disillusioned.
Especially infuriating was the Army's re-
enlistment practice. Instead of having been
told, Louty discovered he would have to
serve at least five years and two terms in
Vietnam.
Most of all he resented officers who bribed
pfc's into signing up for an extra two years
with the bogus promise they wouldn't go to
Vietnam. Although widely known and ap-
plied, the ruse still works, according to
Louty. The gullible joe is first shipped out
to England or Germany, and then inevit-
ably transferred to Vietnam - sometimes
as quickly as three weeks.
IN SEPTEMBER Louty and his company
were ordered to Ft. Benning to train as
Rangers. "Every day there, you live with the
'rah, rah, kill, kill' business. One day, I
thought, my God. where am I?"
He appealed for a transfer to his im-
mediate superior, who told him. "Unless you
serve in Vietnam, you aren't fit to live in
this country."
So he went to Lt. Col. Wilbur Thiel. "Thiel
thought I was part of the Communist con-
spiracy," Louty says. "I though Dr. Strange-
love was a funny movie until I met Thiel."
"Then I found out he was in the major-
ity among the officers."
Once he revedled publicly his objections
to Vietnam, Louty was at the mercy of his
superiors, who have virtually unlimited
methods to make his decision unbearable.
Thiel, a 23-year veteran, was so furious
he threw Louty out of his office and filed
a report with the base commander charging
Louty was " a disgrace to his country, the
U.S. Army and Officer Corps."
Louty resigned in October. "I began
thinking, hell's bells, five years in prison
can't be any worse than this."
He was re-assigned to Thiel's secretarial
pool, where he spent 12 hours each day
mimeographing handouts for new recruits.
Another secretary "got so sick of the half-
truths" that he mimeographed his own
handouts to countermand the official line.
He was caught, courtmartialed and booted
out.
LOUTY'S DISCHARGE, wnich finally
came through in March, was not that
ignominious. In fact, it wasn't even dis-
honorable.
Despite peer pressure, more and m o r e
officers are asking to be excused f r o m

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