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PASSINGS : William Doyle

Accused of war atrocities

November 15, 2008|Times Staff and Wire Reports

William Doyle, 75, who led an Army unit accused of killing hundreds of civilians during the Vietnam War, died Nov. 6 at a hospital in Springfield, Mo., of complications from chronic lung disease.

The Kansas City, Mo., native joined the Army in 1950. As a staff sergeant, he served in Vietnam as a team leader in the 101st Airborne Division's elite Tiger Force.

Doyle's team was accused of mutilating and killing hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese villagers in 1967. Army investigators recommended charging Doyle and 17 others with war crimes, but no action was taken.

"We fought the way we felt it should have been fought," Doyle said years later when reporters for the Toledo Blade newspaper discovered documents related to the case.

"We were living day to day. We didn't expect to live. Nobody out there with any brains expected to live. So you did [anything] you felt like doing -- especially to stay alive. The way to live is to kill because you don't have to worry about anybody who's dead."

The Pentagon concealed the case for decades. It was uncovered in 2003 in a series of stories for which the Toledo Blade won a Pulitzer Prize.

"There was no political will" to prosecute the case, Gustav Apsey, the Army's lead investigator, told reporters. "They didn't want this getting out."

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