January 29, 1971
By JOANNE SUTTON
About 25 members of Ohio State Veterans Against the War (VAW) are planning to participate in their own inquiry on Vietnam war crimes in Detroit this weekend.
The purpose of the "Winter Soldier Investigations" (WSI) is to prove war crimes were committed by U.S. soldiers and that they were "the inexorable result of national policy," according to Tim Holder, a junior from Columbus and president of the local VAW.
The WSI takes its name indirectly from Thomas Paine's phrase "the summer soldier and sunshine patriot" of the American Revolution, those men who fought for the cause when the weather was good. A statement from WSI reads, "our greatest debt is to the men who served during that cold winter at Valley Forge."
"Those who testify in Detroit are the winter soldiers of the Vietnam War," William Crandell, a graduate student from Sylvania member of the steering committee of WSI, said.
According to Holder, former enlisted men and officers from various Marine, Army, Air Force, and Navy divisions will testify about war crimes their units had committed. He said testimony of massacres, torture of prisoners and murder of prisoners will be offered.
"No names will be used, so there will be no scapegoats," Holder said. "And those who testify need have no fear of prosecution since they are out of uniform."
The first day will begin with accounts of the use of weapons which have been outlawed by international treaty. Holder cited the use of anti-personnel bombs which are timed to explode a few minutes after they hit the ground and the all clear signal has been sounded.
"We feel an obligation to inform the American public about what's happening," Crandell said. "We know, we are there."
The investigation is being conducted by honorably discharged veterans who served in Vietnam, he said. It is being supported by donations from Businessmen for Peace and contributions raised by singers Phil Ochs, Dave Crosby and Graham Nash.
Crosby and Nash will perform Saturday in Detroit, and admission will be free for veterans, Holder said.
Free room and board will be provided for all veterans who attend either to testify or to watch.
Howard Zinn, professor of political science at Yale will be the moderator, according to Crandell. Zinn recently visited American POWs in Vietnam.
WSI has called on all churches to declare Sunday, a day of mourning for those who have died in Vietnam, and a day of prayer that the war will now end. Veterans will speak in churches throughout the country on Sunday morning, Holder said.