The Death of Colonel Nguyen

Civilians thought of Green Berets as Army Special Forces. It was more complicated than that. Our orders came from the Agency or the President. Our activities were top secret. Even General Westmoreland had no idea of what we did or who we were. And of course, we weren’t supposed to be in Cambodia at all.

When we dragged Nguyen out of his hut he didn’t make a sound. The black hood over his head would have been superfluous if not for the fact that it kept me from having to see his face. And him from seeing mine.

I knew what came next. I’d seen it a dozen times. The Agency had trusted Colonel Nguyen as far as they trusted any of of the old Viet Minh guys, but we had unimpeachable evidence of his betrayal to the VC. Photographs, eyewitnesses. Everything but a confession, and we’d have that soon enough. Then would come the boat trip to Nha Trang Bay.

What Pegman Saw

Note: between 1967 and 1970, the CIA and the Army Special Forces conducted Project GAMMA, a counterinsurgency program designed to disrupt North Vietnamese and Viet Cong activity in Cambodia. The Green Berets supposedly followed the “rules of warfare,” but in combat situations such niceties were often overlooked. Assassination was commonplace, as was the torture and summary execution of anyone suspected of spying.