7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 29, 2021 2:04 PM by William Stevenson Branched to a new discussion.

    Seeking specific records about Thuy Bo Incident

    William Stevenson Adventurer

      I am researching the so-called Thuy Bo incident (31 January5/1st February 1967) involving the 2nd Platoon of Hotel Co, 2/1st Marines, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuy_Bo_incident A major source for this Wikipedia entry is this book by Nick Turse:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Turse#Kill_Anything_That_Moves...As a primary source for his book (but not cited for the Thuy Bo incident in his endnotes to it), Turse had discovered the NARA-held files of a Pentagon task force named "The Vietnam War Crimes Working Group" (VWCWG):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_Crimes_Working_Group Turse also had accessed these 1983 PBS documentary interviews about the incident with witnesses who were there: the first five are Vietnamese, the last two are Marines: the Commanding Officer of H/2/1 (E. J.Banks) and one of his infantrymen (Jack Hill); the documentary was titled Vietnam: A Television History, Episode 4: "America Takes Charge, 1965-67"):










      A close analysis of the relevant 2/1 (battalion) and 1st Marines (regiment) Command Chronologies (CommChrons) concludes that they are opaque on the allegations made by the above surviving (in 1981-82) witnesses about what happened in the hamlet on the afternoon of 31 January1967.  The S-3 Journal includes no reports from H/2/1 about its actions between 1400 and 1600 (2-4 pm) when they were within Thuy Bo (1) hamlet, and during which time they reported no reported combat actions or casualties.


      Below extract is a screenshot enlargement from this 1984 military terrain map:  https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/vietnam/dai_loc-6640-4.pdf

      Each grid square is 1 square kilometer; Thuy Bo (1) is in grid squares 9858 and 9958, and straddles the road north from the highway to the small town of Chau Lau (reddish area denotes densely built-up).  The 2/1 S-3 (the Operations section in Battalion headquarters) Journal shows that most of the 3-day combat operation's USMC casualties (except for one (died of wounds) at Thuy Bo on afternoon of 31 January) had taken place on 29 January in the area within 2 km east of and within Chau Lau town (the reddish area mostly in grid square 9860, 2 km north of Thuy Bo (1).

      USMC map showing location of Thuy Bo (1)


      Per the S-3 Journal for 31 January, the 3-day combat operation had ended before nightfall that day and the 2/1 troops had returned to the Battalion CP; there was no combat on February 1.


      In the 2/1 and 1st Marines CommChrons for January and February 1967, the only reference to any civilian deaths during the 3-day combat operation -- whose last major engagement was in Thuy Bo on the afternoon of 31 January -- that is probably of relevance to the alleged atrocity is in the February 1967 2/1 CommChron's S-3 Journal for 1 February: https://vva.vietnam.ttu.edu/images.php?img=/images/1201/1201020103.pdf


      The relevant reference to Vietnamese civilian casualties is in the S3 Journal for 1 February at 1510 (3:10 pm local time), copy attached (BnCP is "Battalion Command Post"):


      Copy of USMC 2/1 S3 log entry for 1510 (3:10 pm) 1st February 1967


      Note that this entry makes no reference to Thuy Bo nor to what or who caused the deaths nor where they were alleged to have occurred.  There are no subsequent Journal entries on this incident: no mention of any follow-on delivery by peasants the following day (February 2) to the 2/1 CP of additional dead and wounded (totaling altogether 22 dead and 18 wounded for the two days according to the USMC official history), nor any reference elsewhere in the February 1967 CommChron to Thuy Bo or VN civilian casualties from 2/1's 29-31 January operation.


      The same opacity in the USMC account of the Thuy Bo events (relative to the atrocity described in Turse's book) may be said of the account contained in the official USMC Vietnam War history for 1967 (released in 1984, cover page and extract of its relevant page 51 are attached), which is cited by Turse as the source of the Thuy Bo incident's combat context as recounted in his book (scroll to bottom of this chain for the Turse text).  But on several points, the description of the timing and sequence of events in the official history's page 51 account (inserted below the title page below) does not correspond to the S-3 Journal entries in the two monthly 2/1 CommChrons, which recorded events as (or very soon after) they occurred and were reported by radio in real time from the units in the field during 29-31 January:


      Cover page USMC VN War History 1967

      Extract from official USMC history in VN 1967 page 51, Thuy Bo incident

      Five questions:


      (1)  What USMC and Navy Intelligence and JAG archives contain any documentation on this Thuy Bo incident and any subsequent 2/1,1st Marines or 1st Division USMC (or any other, e.g. VWCWG) internal investigation of it?

      (2) Specifically, can you locate a copy of the report of the 2/1 investigation that is referenced in the last sentence of the last full paragraph on page 51 above, viz:  "After an investigation, the battalion determined that these civilian casualties were a regrettable corollary to the fighting on 31 January and 1 February."

      (3)  What archives include the Thuy Bo civilian resident interrogation reports referenced in the above-attached S-3 Journal entry of 1 February 1967?

      (4)  May I obtain copies from the VWCWG archive of any references to the Thuy Bo incident ?

      (5) Must I submit an FOIA request for copies of whatever you have on it?  Through what portal?


      Message was edited by: William Stevenson at 5:55 pm (PDT) on 10 June 2021