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Nov-14-2008 12:09printcomments

Vietnam War Crimes Suspect William Doyle Dies

William Doyle, the face of Vietnam crimes, dead at 75.

William Doyle, shown at Phang Rang, Vietnam, in 1967

(SPRINGFIELD, Mo.) - Americans today largely seem to have forgotten the costly mistakes of the Vietnam War; errors that reduced credibility and ruined the popularity of defeating the Communists in that SE Asian country. One of the soldiers who helped solidify the angst and resentment toward our military was William Doyle, a "face of Vietnam crimes" who died this week in Springfield, Missouri at the age of 75.

William Doyle will be remembered as the tough-talking Vietnam War veteran whose decorated platoon killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in a case reportedly concealed by the Pentagon for decades.

Mr. Doyle was a team leader with the Army's famous 'Tiger Force' in 1967 that executed women and children in a bloody seven-month rampage.

According to an article published by McClatchy Newspapers, William Doyle bragged that he shot so many civilians that he lost count.

"We killed anything that moved," he told The Toledo Blade for a 2004 series. "My only regret is that I didn't kill more."

Military prosecutors tried to take Doyle and 17 of his team members to task, recommending that they be charged with war crimes including murder and assault. The charges were dropped and the Army allowed Doyle and his men to walk. It didn't happen overnight though; Doyle's investigation was the longest in the Army's history. It was quietly closed by the Pentagon in 1975.

The Army's lead investigator, Gustav Apsey, was quoted saying, "There was no political will (to prosecute)."

"They didn't want this getting out."

William Doyle would later say that he was "temporarily insane" when he committed the crimes.

"We were living day to day. We didn't expect to live. Nobody out there with any brains expected to live."

The story went public in 2003, and William Doyle would go down in history

"We fought the war the way we felt it should have been fought," he said.

That attitude, along with the My Lai Massacre and other events like the slaughter at Son Thang, would later be recalled when assessing the longest war the United States ever fought and lost. These are the events that turned many Americans against the combat soldier of the Vietnam era.


Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

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MSG Cottingham January 13, 2012 5:55 am (Pacific time)

I was in the honor guard at William doyles funeral. His DD 214 said he was an excellent soldier. There were no mentions as to what when or where. A highly decorated soldier. The funeral was printed all over the USA as on a Sunday but it took place 5 days earlier. That way if any prosters showed, they missed it. I let the soldiers know not to talk about this to anyone about the funeral. I personally shredded all papers with his name on it for the families protection.

mike jackson August 19, 2011 8:17 pm (Pacific time)

I knew Bill and his family in the Philippines in the 70s and 80s,thou I saw him for the last time in the 90s.He had a loving delightful wife,Tammy and a bunch of kids.He was a good friend of mine and thou he did not talk much about Vietnam he certainly was a great man and good friend.

David A. white March 2, 2009 1:47 pm (Pacific time)

The Toledo Blade released this story a few years ago, I worked with one of the men metioned in the story. I read the book when it came out, in my opinion, no one will ever know exactly what happened. When the newsmen got the story, over 30 years had passed and everyone sees the same thing from a different angle, also many of the men involved had passed. Mr. Doyle thought he was right and maybe he was, peace be on you brother.

wow thank you bush December 7, 2008 8:09 pm (Pacific time)

the vietnam war cost more than 1 million civilian lives to just thwart communism. As for the war in iraq, and soon to be in another country, civilians lives are being taken away in order to save THEM from terrorism. who is the terrorist but us as our incapable leader coined terrorism on a global stage. Such ideological based wars will never save civilians one bit but will only create more hate for our country usa. when will people wake up and see who profits most from wars then of those who are in the banking industry. bailing out the banks is unanimous but to bailout the people,.....our politicians have to think before they decide on the people they are suppose to serve. I bet he digraces the true Vietnam Veterans.

anon December 7, 2008 3:52 pm (Pacific time)

This article is about the death of a man who lived a long and hard life. The Vietnam war may have been just a small part of that, but it is also the only part most of us will know. So what is fair in a situation where a man clearly speaks in a very casual and flippant manner about taking the lives of so many. A man who is apparently capable of such cruelty as well as such love. I'm sure mr. Doyle was a kind and loving man to his loved ones, but it also seems he was a cold blooded killer who personally wrecked an awful lot of lives in a far away country a long time ago. Is that suppose to be forgotten or forgiven. Are those Vietnamese not due some justice. We are all at different times in our lives heroes, villans, angels, and demons. He did not have to speak to reporters, and how many mr. Doyles chose never to speak of what they have done, or to simply deny any wrongdoing from that war. If there is an afterlife, then mr. Doyle will have to answer for his deeds, both good and bad. to confront all those he killed and pay for his actions. Perhaps, he will be punished for the evil and rewarded for the loving. It would be easier to sympathize with the man if he had conveyed a bit or sympathy and remorse for what he was involved in. I wonder if any of the doctors who comforted him and worked to save his life at the end were Vietnamese. We as Americans are all to blame for the good and the bad the went on over there. The blood is on all of our hands, not just mr Doyles.

Tim King:  Well said...

Vic November 17, 2008 8:54 am (Pacific time)

"On the day that Americans turned out in near record numbers to vote, another record was being set halfway around the world. In Afghanistan, a US Air Force strike wiped out about 40 people in a wedding party. This represented at least the sixth wedding party eradicated by American air power in Afghanistan and Iraq since December 2001. American planes have, in fact, taken out two brides in the past seven months. And don't try to bury your dead or mark their deaths ceremonially either, because funerals have been hit as well." From "Breathless in washington" by Tom Englehart

David White November 16, 2008 7:07 pm (Pacific time)

May God have mercy on William Doyle soul, he will be burned in hell forever.

Vic November 16, 2008 9:14 am (Pacific time)

My comment was edited somewhat...I never meant to imply that ALL soldiers are like Doyle..but SOMEONE is killing hundreds of thousands of civilians...bombing weddings and the like. People like Doyle are a disgrace to the vast majority of soldiers that would never do this kind of thing.

Greg Farris November 15, 2008 10:10 pm (Pacific time)

Glad he is dead. He is a disgrace to Vietnam Vets. I was in Nam from Oct 67-Dec 69.

Vic November 15, 2008 7:52 pm (Pacific time)

1.4 million dead Iraqi civilians would disagree with the " our people today are not the same" conclusion...They are.

Mike November 14, 2008 7:34 pm (Pacific time)

'executed' misspelled as 'exsecuted' :)

EDITOR:  Thanks for being on quality control-watch! Correction has been made. 

jimmy November 14, 2008 7:10 pm (Pacific time)

hey timmy, nobody is exsecuted anymore man... that was a darker time.

I know Jimmy, and the legacy haunts good people and that is too bad.  Our people today are not the same as this guy.


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