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November 10, 1972 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-11-10

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Friday, N6vermber'10, 1972


Page Five

Fridoy, N6vember 10, 1972 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five


Marines don't take prisoners

Cemeteries are



THE VIETCONG, by George E.
Smith. Ramparts Press, 1971,
304 pp., $5.95.
GEORGE Smith was a badass
kid.Raised in rural West
Virginia, he got into a fight with
the boss on his first job, working
at a hamburger joint for a dol-
lar a day, told the guy to go to
hell, and was fired. At the time,
he was twelve years old. For
George, school was a drag:
"When I got to high school, I
felt like I was wasting my time.
It didn't lead to anything that
seemed worthwhile. I didn't get
along with the r teachers and
never tried to. I suppose I've al-
ways, been defiant." He felt
trapped in West Virginia, so he
ran away repeatedly, once as far
as Florida. Then in 1955, on his
seventeenth birthday, he led his
mother to the Army recruiter
and she signed the necessary en-
listment papers.
"The Army was what I had
been waiting for . .. .1 grew up
in the Army. It became my cul-
ture. Seventeen is a formative
age and if you get into some-
thing like the Army at 17, and
you begin to think like a soldier,
then whatever they tell you is ac-
ceptable." After basic training,
he became a paratrooper and
was stationed in Germany where
he was initiated into the "Air-
borne Spirit": "I got involved in
a couple of fights . . . . Para-
troopers were supposed to get
into fights . . . . Kicking. ass was
a part of wearing that (Air-
borne) patch and boots. They
take a little kid and make him
think he's a really bad charac-
ter." And he was, that is, until
he was mustered out during the
severe economic recession of
1958. For two years he drifted
from one lousy job to the next,
finding little opportunity, nothing
he liked, and no security. The
only security he'd ever known
had been the Army. They feed
you, they house and clothe you,
and the jobs are certainly no
worse than anything on the out-
side. So he thought about reen-
listing. "In the Army there
would be people that I liked to
talk to and run around with ....
If I got sick, I could go to a free
hospital. The outside world
seemed tough, but I knew how to
get around in the Army."

SMITH reenlisted and spent a
year floati-g around various
camps. He worked as a projector
oner4or and showed "The Big
Picture" films where the valiant
U. S. Army, the greatest fight-
ing force on earth, smashed both
the German and Japanese arm-
ies. Then in 1961, in the wake of
President Kennedy's order to
quadruple, the Special Forces
and to train them in guerrilla
warfare after the Bay of Pigs
disaster, he volunteered for the
Green Berets. And he loved it.
"We were arrogant . . . . (The)
Special Forces was the highest
level you could reach, the elite
of the elite. Guerrilla warfare
was what we volunteered for ...
and of course the application
would be in Vietnam .. . Hell, I
didn't where Vietnam was . . .

content. After all, as the elite of
the elite, as one of the one-hun-
dred - men-we'll-test-today-but-
only - three-make-the-Green-Be-
ret, he was performing none of
the tasks he was so specially and
so expensively trained to carry
I began asking some silent
questions after I'd been there
for a while. It must have been
Horne (a man in the unit) who
told me that it was Madame
Nhu's sugar cane and sugar mill
we were guarding. I considered
it - "Madame Nhu's sugar
mill? Isn't it for the Vietnamese
people that I'm here?" "Well,
it's a job," I decided. "We're
guarding a sugar mill, somebody
else is probably guarding a rub-
ber plantation." Later on, I
thought what a prostitution it


(But) We would be supporting
the government of the people ...
to defend the democratic govern-
ment of South Vietnam against
Chinese Communists . . . We had
to stop them. Everybody knew
that - we saw it on "Big Pic-.
George Smith was never ex-
actly the classic picture of an
anti-war activist. The Army was
his entire life, Vietnam his mis-
sion, his destiny as a Green Be-
ret. "I believed it. I believed
everything the Army said. I nev-
er questioned anything they told
me until I got to Vietnam, and
then things didn't quite fit any-
Sergeant Smith was among the
first Green Berets ordered to
serve in Vietnam. At the time,
they were called advisers. In 1963
Smith and his A-team were sta-
tioned at Hiep Hoa, halfway be-
tween Saigon and the Cambodian
border. Their days basically con-
sisted of doing nothing. Smith
was a medic and a few days a
week made rounds in the near-
by villages, none of which had
doctors. He doled out barbitur-
ates to the anxious, ampheta-
mines to the weary, and a few
shots of antibiotics for almost
everyone else. But he was dis-

was of the Special Forces to
send them to Vietnam to guard
Madame Nhu's goddamn sugar
ONE EVENING, an unusual
thing happened at Hiep Hoa.
The ARVN regulars at the night-
ly card game/drinking bout
found reasons to go home early.
By the next morning, George
Smith was a prisoner of the Viet-
cong, one of the first prisoners
of the Vietnam War.
Smith recounts the story of his
capture and two years as a POW
in a West Virginian's rambling
conversational style. You get the
impression that the book was
transcribed from tapes of Smith
talking about his experiences.
And it's a beautiful book, really
beautiful, and fascinating.
Prisoner Smith was the same
badass son of a bitch as para-
trooper Smith. He was an Army
lifer captured by the gooks. He
hated his captors, tormented
them, and made a point of being
as uncooperative as possible.
The prisoners gave their Vietna-
mese guards names like "Anus"
and "Pussy," and complained
about everything incessantly.
Surprisingly, from the mo-
ment of his capture, Smith was
both awed and confused by the
goodwill of the Vietnamese to-
ward him. They had been in-
structed at Fort Bragg that
'guerrillas don t take prisoners,"
that mobility is the first law of
guerrilla warfare, and that pri-
soners are excess baggage. As a
Green Beret, if captured, he
would be interrogated and cer-
tainly tortured, then killed. The
instructions had concluded: "Try
to hold out for twenty-four

hours." But they were treated
well. They ate the same food as
the Viet Cong, and shared the
same life, both the hardships
and the small joys like feasts at
Tet. Once during an aerial attack
both captors and captives fled
into the bush for cover - all
except one POW who had an in-
jured leg. Risking his own life,
one of the NLF returned to the
hut where the American lay
helplessly and rode out the
bombing with him.
LITTLE by little the Vietcong
won Smith over. Slowly,
haltingly, they convinced him of
their version of the war. The
American government helped,
too. On October 15, 1964, Nguyen
Van Troi, an NLF cadre, was
executed in Saigon by firing
squad for planting explosives
under a bridge that Robert Mc-
Namara was scheduled to cross.
The Vietnamese had repeatedly
warned the U. S. and Saigon
that such action would jeopardize
the safety of U. S. POWs. But
they killed him anyway. In
Smith's own words:
If nothing else ever caused me
to lose faith in the United States
government, that execution very
definitely did. I certainly didn't
owe any allegiance to anyone ...
that inconsiderate of our welfare,
who would jeopardize us by ex-
ecuting some guy for attempting
to blow up McNamara. They
could have . . . used him in a
prisoner exchange . . . I stopped
blaming my captors so much at
that point. I wasn't mad at the
Vietnamese for not releasing
us . . . As f-r as I was con-
cerned, the U. S. and Saigon
governments became directly
responsible for our captivity
from that point on.
MITH was a POW for two
years. He was released in
1965 as a Vietnamese gesture
of homage to Norman Morrison,
the Quaker who immolated him-
self on the steps of the Penta-
gon in protest against the War.
But like so many Vietnam vets,
like the three POWs recently re-
leased, he said nothing about his
experiences. He had made anti-
w5 r statements during his cap-
tivity and the Army threatened
to court martial him for them;
he was terrified. He spent the
next five years watching the anti-
war movement grow, and final-
lv, like Daniel Ellsberg, he de-
cided to reveal what he knew.
The book appeared in 1971, and
was immediately denounced as
"a classic case of Communist
brainwashing" by Lt. Col. H. G.
Read this book. Nixon is mak-
ing a big "issue" out of the sit-
uation of our POWs, but we nev-
er hear what they have to say.
Two Years with the Vietcong is
the first book of its kind to ap-
pear, and it provides a unique
perspective into the POW situa-
tion and the pre-Tet years of
the war.

by Edmund V. Gillon Jr. Dover,
173 pp., 261 photographs, $4.00.
a drag-they're cold, ugly,
and morbid. But, as Edmund
Gillon points out in his brief but
interesting introduction to Vic-
torian Cemetery Art, the nine-
teenth century cemetery was a
place "specifically set aside

with grassy hills, solitary grot-
toes, 'enlivened with music from
feathered songsters'," an addi-
tional city park where people
spent a pleasant Sunday after-
noon or perhaps went for a pic-
nic. If it sounds a little like
Forest Lawn-people get mar-
ried at Forest Lawn, thousands
f them each year-perhaps it
is; I think Gillon is a little ro-
mantic in his assessment of the
values of beautiful burying
Romantic or not, the Victor-
ian monument was as varied
and maudlin as ours is mono-
.ithic and cold. Carved in soft
white marble, there were ships
for sea captains, bibles for min-
isters, veiled children asleep for
infants, weeping angels, bas re-
lief portraits, fallen trees-thou-
sands of generally transparent
symbolisms for every occasion.
THE SUBJECT-cemeteries as
a period piece - seems
strange to us; but it isn't really.
This form of art, or any form
indeed (furniture, domestic ar-
chitecture, even, say, fences),
when seen as a whole takes on
a unity of its own. Dover has
been putting out these titles for
several years now-type design
usual and unusual, Dutch houses
of the Hudson Valley, Indian de-
signs, symbols, engravings, ac-
aidental designs, and many
more-and each has its own
value. Victorian Cemetery Art
is one of the better ones.

Forget the title, read the book,

Frankfort. Quadrangle, 250 pp.,
r HIS BOOK is about being a
woman, and women being well
and ill, and about how the medi-
cal profession treats women. By
extension it's about us all. It
is also about freedom.
M.D. Mary Costanza's fore-
word says that the health care
revolution now in progress is
even more against the imposi-
tion on you and me of what
somebody else wants to do to us
or withhold from us than it is
for better health care-and since
women use doctors more than
men do it is particularly their
This being so, Ellen Frankfort
wants women (the consumers)
to have contro lover medical
centers. Then she expects (quot-
ing Margaret Mead) that the
painfully inhuman practice of
separating mother and child af-
ter birth and of not feeding the
child on demand would stop.
5HE DESCRIBES a group of
women learning about t h e
insides of their bodies, and how
to tell whether one is pregnant
(without a test) and if a vagi-
nal illness is on the way (catch
it early) and a claimed-to-be-safe
and easy do-it-yourself method
for shortening menstruation to a
period of several minutes, or for
aborting, but Frankfort has
strong reservations about the
She reprints a description of
what a good gynecological check-
up should be like, so you can
check on your doctor.

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designed to help you relate educational
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eral antidepressant drugs being
sold under different names.
Two hundred of 369 doctor-
prescribable-only drugs that the
FDA tried to remove as hazard-
ous or ineffective are still on the
market two and a half years lat-
DES, which caused cancer in
women who took it on doctor's
advice during pregnancy, is giv-
en to 80 per cent of the beef
cattle we eat.
Vaginal deodorants, unregulat-
ed by any government safety
agency because they are classi-
fied as cosmetics, not drugs, con-
tain hexachlorophine, which in
large 'amounts paralyzes monk-
eys and damages their brains.
Consumer reports cite male geni-
tals as being irritated by con-
tact with deodorized vaginas. So
much for surrealism.
SHE SAYS the A.M.A., an or-
ganization to which about
half the doctors belong, suppres-
sed a study showing that the
birth-control pill was causing cer-
vical cancer and assumes t h i s
happened because half the
A.M.A. Journal's income is from
drug ads.
Medical care is geared primar-
ily to the rich. For every white
woman who dies in childbirth,
four non whites die. The Puerto
Rican South Bronx has one third
the hospital beds per whatever
number of persons than the main-
ly white North Bronx, and a
study showed that other things
being equal, ward patients (poor)
had higher complication r a t e s
than private patients (rich) -
that is, the care was poorer. As
for abortions, only the poor are
discriminated against, as the rich
have always been able to get
them one way or another.
Don't be both poor and a wo-
man. V.D. in the United States
is rising rapidly (1 in 5 women
under 20 has gonorrhea) while
funds for research and dealing
with it are dropping. Dr. Horn's
book Away with All Pests men-
tions some poverty-stricken Chin-
ese area 50 per cent syphilitic
in 1950, but 0 per cent after treat-
ment in 1962.
Two recent grotesqueries, cases
of legal discrimination against
Great New
Passbook' for the
Bar Exam and
All Law School
Prepare for the Feb. 28, 1973
RUDMAN'S (Pa perbound)
on the
Jack Rudman 0 Robert J.
Cohn, J.D.
To:NatWninl Larnin Cr.

women, are described; and s h e
notes that a man who wants to
be sterilized has only to be over
21 but that women have to ful-
fill all sorts of other conditions.
Women's illnesses get least re-
search, but men's (such as heart
conditions) most.
She finds discrimination against
women in the medical complex
itself - 97 per cent of doctors
are men. Three fourths of hospit-
al workers are women, but the
medical complexs' executives are
nearly all men. Dr. Reuben's sex
manual Any Woman Can really
gets her worked up.
HOW MANY women would un-
dergo a radical mastectomy
(extensive cutting-off of a breast)
if they knew that the medical
evidence doesn't favor it over the
simple mastetomy (less exten-
sive cut-off)? And how m a n y
would undergo a hysterectomy
(cuting out of uterus) if they'd
heard that doctors working for
a Ralph Nader study found a
third of the hysterectomies per-
formed under their scrutiny un-
necessary? In New York City in
1970 the vacuum aspirator was
not used for abortions, though
safer and easier than the method
used, because there was less
dough in it for doctors.
In China one million paramedi-
cals (a lay doctor) were trained
in three years. No doubt a few
could be trained here without
straining 'United States resources
to the utmost, so that doctors,
would not waste time they could
use more effectively (and charge
for it).
In ancient China one only paid

the doctor if one was well. But,
no doubt, doctors existed there
who used to try to persuade the
dying that they had never been
healthier. And in England now
doctors get paid both when the
patient is ill and well, but much
less than here when they are ill.
TS THERE hope? Nonprofession-
al women counselors in New
York City advised successfully
against out-patient salines (abor-
tion method used in advanced
pregnancies) because it left the
patients feeling worse tkan if
they'd had them in hospital -
and this was done despite the op-
position of the doctors, whostood
to lose money.
Reviewing Dr. William Nolan's
once best-selling recent autobio-
graphy The Making of a Surgeon
she finds him taught not to see
people as people by the type of
medical training he underwent,
as well as being led to patients
and supervisors in order to get
to the top and make more money.
Oh well, the book's an easy
read, exciting here, pedestrian
there. Soon, I hope, it will be
superceded. Now it is the right
book at the right time. It will
effect many people. It will cause
change. The title will sell it, the
contents deserve to.
Today's writers...
David Kozubei presides over
the literary set at Borders Book-
Michael Castleman is a grad-
uate student in the Department
of Sociology.

On drugs, she says:
Imapranine, suspected
ing limbless childbirth,
listed as an ingredient



of caus-
is not
of sev-

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