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Published: 10/19/2003

Primary figures

Special Agent Gustav Apsey - The lead agent in the 41/2-year Tiger Force case, he oversaw an investigation that utilized more than 100 investigators to interview 137 witnesses in 63 cities. He prepared the 1975 final report for commanders for possible prosecution, including 20 substantiated war crimes ranging from murder and assault to dereliction of duty against 15 soldiers who survived the war. Now 63 and retired, he lives in Washington state.


Sgt. James Barnett

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Sgt. James Barnett - The Tennessee native told Army investigators that the unit committed widespread war crimes. He admitted executing an unarmed woman on the orders of another sergeant. He resigned as a lieutenant from the Army during the investigation. He became a boiler operator before dying of cancer in Alabama in 2001 at age 56.

Howard “Bo” Callaway - He was appointed secretary of the Army in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. Records show summaries of the Tiger Force investigation were sent to his office for review beginning in 1972. He resigned in June, 1975, the same month the Tiger Force final report was sent to commanders for possible prosecution. Now 76, he told The Blade he doesn't remember the case.

Sgt. Gerald Bruner - He was the only known solider to threaten other members of the platoon to stop a civilian from being killed. He would later complain to three superiors, but no investigation was conducted. He transferred from Tiger Force and served two more tours in Vietnam. He died in Colon, Mich., in 1997. He was 59.

Spec. Barry Bowman - A platoon medic, he said he became so upset after seeing a prisoner beaten and killed that he spoke to a battalion chaplain about it. But he admitted to killing a wounded prisoner himself, calling it a “mercy killing.” He left the Army in 1969 and rejoined from 1980 to 1986. Now 59 and living in Rhode Island, he said he struggles with memories of the war.


Spec. William Carpenter

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Spec. William Carpenter - The eastern Ohio native joined Tiger Force in January, 1967, at 18 and served until December. He recounted war crimes during the Army investigation. Now 55, he lives near Rayland, Ohio.


Pvt. Rion Causey

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Pvt. Rion Causey - As a 19-year-old unit medic he witnessed the executions of unarmed Vietnamese of all ages and genders, counting 120 civilians killed in just one month of 1967. Now 55, he is a senior research scientist in Livermore, Calif.

Sgt. Gary Coy - A member of a company that occasionally patrolled with Tiger Force, he triggered the Army investigation after claiming in 1971 that he saw a soldier behead a baby. He later told investigators that he heard about the incident second-hand. Now 55, he resides in Missouri.

Sgt. William Doyle - He joined Tiger Force in June, 1967, and admitted in a recent interview that he killed unarmed civilians, prisoners, and interpreters assigned to the unit. He said he left the Army in 1971 to join the CIA's Air America, which helped fight communists in neighboring Laos. He said he was tipped off by an Army investigator to keep quiet about the war crimes. Now 70, he lives in Missouri.


Spec. Kenneth "Boots" Green

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Spec. Kenneth “Boots” Green - Pvt. Sam Ybarra's best friend in high school, he joined the Army with Private Ybarra and was accused of helping his friend commit several war crimes. He was called ‘Boots' because he never removed his boots when he was in the field. A North Vietnamese sniper killed Specialist Green on Sept. 29, 1967.


Lt. James Hawkins


Lt. James Hawkins - While commanding the platoon from July 2 to Nov. 1, the Kentucky native shot an unarmed, elderly man and ordered the shooting of civilians and prisoners, former soldiers told Army investigators in sworn statements. He told The Blade the killings were justified. He was not charged by the Army and was promoted to major before retiring in 1978. He worked as a civilian Army employee before retiring again in 2001. Now 62, he lives in Florida.


Pvt. Ken Kerney


Pvt. Ken Kerney - The Illinois native joined the platoon in May, 1967, as a rifleman. He said in a recent interview he witnessed, but didn't take part in, the wide-spread killing of civilians. When he returned home from Vietnam, he burned his uniform. But he later joined the Army National Guard and served in the 1991 Gulf War. Now 56, he is a firefighter in California.


Lt. Col. Gerald Morse

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Lt. Col. Gerald Morse - At age 38 the Korean War veteran took over the 1st Battalion/327th Infantry. He immediately instituted a more aggressive style for Tiger Force and the three companies he oversaw. Many atrocities occurred while he was commander. Several soldiers told investigators he pushed the unit to kill as many people as possible to pad “body count” statistics, which he has denied. He retired in 1979 as a colonel. Now 74 and a champion racquetball player, he lives in Arizona.

Sgt. Harold Trout - At 30, the sergeant was second-in-command of Tiger Force and considered a combat veteran. Former soldiers say he ordered the execution of a young mother, ordered the execution of a prisoner, and himself executed a wounded detainee. He retired from the military in 1985. Now 66, he lives in Tennessee.

Lt. Donald Wood - A Tiger Force officer who tried to stop two atrocities in 1967, he later complained to superiors about the mistreatment of civilians, but no investigation was conducted. He became a lawyer in Findlay and died in 1983. He was 36.

Pvt. Sam Ybarra - By age 18, the high school dropout was arrested for underage drinking and carrying a concealed weapon. He was released from jail on the day he was inducted into the Army. Soldiers recall him as the most prolific killer in the platoon. Dishonorably discharged in 1969 for actions unconnected to Tiger Force, he returned to his Arizona reservation, where he struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse. He died in 1982 of pneumonia at 36.

(Story was published on Oct. 19, 2003)

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