Colonel Walter E. Kurtz

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Horror, Horror, … Horror!!

Walter Kurtz was an officer in the United States Army; he was a third-generation West Point graduate and had risen through the ranks and was seen to be destined for a top post within the Pentagon. In his first tour of Vietnam in 1964, he was sent by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to compile a report on the failings of the current military policies. His overtly critical report was not what was expected and was immediately restricted for the joint chiefs and President Lyndon B. Johnson only.

Not long after, Kurtz applied for the 5th Special Forces Group, which was denied to him out of hand because of his advanced age of 38 for the basic training. Kurtz continued with his ambition and even threatened to quit the armed forces, when finally his wish was granted and he was allowed to take the airborne course. Kurtz graduated in a class where he was nearly twice the age of the other trainees and was accepted into the 5th Special Forces Group.

Kurtz returned to Vietnam in 1966 with the Green Berets and was part of the hearts and minds campaign which also included fortifying hamlets. On his next tour, Kurtz was assigned to the Gamma Project, in which he was to raise an army of Montagnards in and around the Vietnamese–Cambodian border to strike at the Viet Cong and N.V.A. Kurtz located his army, including their wives and children, at a remote abandoned Cambodian temple which they fortified. From their base, Kurtz led attacks on the local V.C. and the regular N.V.A. in the region.

Kurtz employed barbaric methods not only to defeat his enemy but also to send fear. At first MACV didn’t object to Kurtz’s tactics, especially as they proved successful. This soon changed when Kurtz allowed photographs of his atrocities to be released to the world.

In late 1968, after Kurtz failed to respond to MACV’s repeated orders to return to Da Nang and resign his command after he ordered the summary execution of four South Vietnamese intelligence agents whom he suspected of being double agents for the Viet Cong, the MACV sent a Green Beret Captain named Richard Colby to bring Kurtz back from Cambodia. Either because he was brainwashed or because he felt a sympathy towards Kurtz’s cause, Colby joined up with Kurtz instead of bringing him back to Da Nang.

With Colby’s failure, MACV then selected CPT Benjamin L. Willard, a paratrooper and Army intelligence officer, to journey up the Nung river and kill Kurtz. Willard succeeded in his mission only because Kurtz, himself broken mentally by the savage war he had waged, wanted Willard to kill him and release him from his own suffering. Kurtz also murdered Jay “Chef” Hicks by severing his head. Before Willard killed him, Kurtz asked Willard to find his (Kurtz’s) wife and son and explain truthfully what he’d done in the war.

– courtesy Wikipedia

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August 19, 2013 · 6:41 pm

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