How Many People Did You Kill In Vietnam?

Gus in Khe Sanh, 1968.

    That's the popular one--how many people did you kill?  I slaughtered millions of people, all helpless,
innocent civilians.  I threw them up and cut them down like dogs.  Actually, I try to give people an
honest answer.  They have a conception that war is like John Wayne movies.  You walk along, some
Japanese soldiers walk out, you say, "hello Japs, eat lead," and shoot them down.  In real war, you rarely
see the enemy.  It's more a question of walking along, somebody starts shooting at you.  They shoot over
here, you shoot over there.  You can't see anything.  Later you go over and there are some shot people.
You don't know who shot them.  Very few people in Vietnam saw someone and shot them.  You're
holding your rifle, firing over your head, thinking "I hope I don't get shot."  You're not really going
around taking score.  I was under fire about 50 times, but I only saw the enemy once.  At Hue, we could
see for about 500 yards, and what you saw was these little teeny-tiny ants.  You couldn't even tell they
were people.

--from "Still Gagging on the Bitterness of Vietnam"
LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 30, 1980


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