[sixties-l] WW II, Vietnam, & War Crime

From: Sorrento95@aol.com
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 12:56:44 CUT

  • Next message: William Mandel: "Re: [sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Vietnam War Memorial"

    In the debate about war crimes in the course
    of the Vietnam conflict, Jerry West writes:

    "Ergo the British and Americans that landed on
     Normandy beaches and Sicily beaches and other
     places were war criminals since they were
     invading someone else's country. I think that
     things are a little bit more complicated than
     your simplistic black and white universe, Jeff."

    West appears to be trying to discredit accusations
    of war criminal behavior by US military personnel
    with the notion that if they are guilty of such,
    then so are the World War II GIs. I think this
    comparison is flawed.

    To make the point, I'll tell a story about my
    father, a warrant officer and radio specialist
    in the 753rd Tank Battalion, which participated
    in the invasion of Sicily, the Anzio campaign,
    and the invasion of southern France. Amidst
    the confusion, when Allied planes were strafing
    their own positions, he recalls grabbing
    a shovel and digging in for dear life on the
    Sicilian beach.

    Sicilian "mafiosi," who had earlier been
    driven underground by the Mussolini government,
    assisted the Allied commanders in their
    successful effort to drive the Germans off
    of the island.

    Later while in southern Italy my father had
    the opportunity to visit the small village of
    Corleto Monforte, province of Salerno, where
    my mother's parents were born. He took
    photos of her aunt and uncle and cousins.

    Thirty-four years after his visit I made
    a trip to Corleto, and took these photos
    with me. I showed them to an old gent
    from Corleto whom I met on the bus en route
    to the village. His name was Giuseppe
    Aurecchio, and he was delighted to know
    that my father had been a GI, and recognized
    every individual in the old photos.

    I also met an old gent named Vito Bambino,
    my grandfather's cousin. Later I obtained
    a rental car for driving back to Battipaglia,
    the nearest town with a train station. On
    the way out of the village, I saw old Vito,
    and he waved at me. I stopped to say good-bye,
    but he wanted me to delay my departure and
    have a drink with him. The reason? He
    had learned that my father had been a GI
    in Italy, and wanted to commemorate it.

    You think the Italian peasants saw the GIs
    as war criminals? Ask Vito! Ask Giuseppe
    Aurecchio !

    As for France, the situation there in 1944
    was very different from Vietnam during the
    1960s. France was under occupation by German
    invaders, who had set up a puppet government
    of collaborators. There was a Free French
    Army of patriotic resisters who welcomed the
    Allied landing at Normandy, and Allied troops
    marching into Paris were welcomed in a mood
    of celebration.

    You had these elements present in the Vietnam
    situation of the 1960s -- an invader army (the US),
    a puppet government (the RVN), guerilla resisters
    (the NLF). The only problem was that the US was
    on the wrong side.

    ~~ Michael Wright
      Norman, Oklahoma

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