Finding the Viet Cong was difficult and if they suspected ones were found they were hard to determine from normal villagers. One fore SEAL who worked in the Mekong Delta told the Washington Post, “It was literally pin the tail on the donkey. Half the time you ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.” And this led to a number of tragedies and dead civilians.
The film maker Oliver Stone fought in Vietnam and made movies about the war such as Platoon and Born on the Forth of July . He told Time: “I was in villages where villagers were killed and abused. It came from anger, fear. There were rapes, beatings and murders. I heard stories from people I was close to. You’re in a hot fire zone. A villager comes up from behind, say a sand dune. He’s surrendering, but sometimes a guy would just pull the trigger and plow him away.”
A U.S. soldier responsible for clearing out tunnels told Time, “We were passing by a monastery when mortars started flying around at us. Guys were screaming and yelling, ‘Mom!’ I was 18 years old. I was scared. I had a rocket launcher, and I fired it into the monastery. It went quiet. When we went in to look, there were a lot of dead. A French priest and some nuns.”
Sgt. Major Len Koontz told the Washington Post he had drank some water from a well where dead bodies had been dumped and came down with a severe case of diarrhea. His best friend Zach took his position. “We got ambushed . Zach got shot in the leg and falls. ‘Lenny, come and get me! But I’m getting shot at too, and I can’t move because I have the runs so bad. They shot him again and again, and he’s calling for me to come and get him, and I can’t move.”
Koontz told the Washington Post, “Consequently, Zach died of course.” Soon afterwards another friend Shelton,” took “a 50, caliber round in the stomach. As he’s falling, he takes another one in the head. A fierce firefight takes place, and I couldn’t get him out of there. He was alone, dead…In the morning we get reinforced and go back up with two platoons. Shelton isn’t there anymore.. they took his body and stripped it and mutilated him and stuck him in the middle of the a bomb carter.”