Participating in War makes all of us murderers.

When Jason Links described the experience of CNN correspondent Michael Ware in dealing with the death of an innocent young Iraqi shot by US troops in 2007, my memories of my own experiences in Trung Lap, Vietnam return. After a heavy barrage of mortars had descended on my advisory compound, I ran through intense fire to meet Captain Quoc, the commander of the force I was training, to meet him at his mortar pit. Captain Quoc was already standing next to one of his heavy mortar tubes, cradling one of the mortar shells in one of his hands. When I asked him to begin firing, he hesitated for a moment. "I know our target like the back of my hand. The area is heavily populated, and we will kill many innocent civilians. In my rage, I screamed: "I don't care. This is war, and the Vietcong will kill us, or we will kill them! Captain Quoc was a gentle man, and he hated that war more than any of the members of my five man team. After many combat missions with me, he was certainly used to killing the enemy, but what I was proposing was basically murder. Since he knew from my long association with him, he understood that I never, ever, change my mind, so he dropped the mortar round into one of his three tubes. Next morning, an old man, supporting one of his wounded legs with a crutch made from the crude limb of a tree, and an elderly woman, who was supporting a very young child, whose intestines were kept into his stomach with a dinner plate, hobbled though our gate, and left the young boy in my care. Though I immediately called for helicopter evacuation, I realized that I was only trying to cam my conscience, and my medic assured me that the boy would die before he could be treated by the doctors in our nearby base camp at Cu Chi. War makes murderers of those who seek to engage in it, and we must live with our guilt for the rest of our lives.

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