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This is about the American soldier and anti-war activist. For others, see Donald Duncan (disambiguation).

Master Sergeant Donald W. "Don" Duncan (born 1930) was a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who served during the Vietnam War, helping to establish the guerrilla infiltration force Project DELTA there. Following his return to the United States, Duncan became outspoken in his opposition to the conflict and became one of a leading public figure in opposition to the war. Duncan is best remembered as the military editor of the radical monthly magazine, Ramparts, during the Vietnam conflict and for his testimony to the 1967 Russell Tribunal detailing American war crimes in Vietnam.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early years[edit | edit source]

Donald Walter Duncan, known to his friends as "Don," was born in Toronto in 1930, but was a US citizen.[1]

Military career[edit | edit source]

Duncan was drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1956, serving as a non-commissioned officer in Germany in the field of operations and intelligence.[1]

Duncan transferred to U.S. Army Special Forces (the so-called "Green Berets") in the first part of 1961, where he continued to work in the field of operations and intelligence.[1] During this interval Duncan received additional training in communications, weapons, and demolitions.[1] Duncan served as an instructor at the United States Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a year and a half, teaching courses to Special Forces members on intelligence tactics and interrogation methods.[2]

Duncan was deployed in Vietnam in March 1964, serving in a variety of capacities with the 5th Special Forces Group and Project DELTA, which he helped to organize.[1] In addition to briefing and debriefing incoming and outgoing soldiers in the theater, Duncan directly participated in 8-member intelligence and "hunter-killer" teams.[1]

As a result of his combat activity, Duncan was heavily decorated, receiving two Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.[1] He was additionally recommended for the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit as well as a field promotion to captain.[1] Duncan was also tapped to help write the official history of U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, spending the last 6 or 8 weeks of his tour engaged in this task.[1]

Disillusioned with the reality of the military situation, Duncan declined the offer of promotion and ended his military career, returning to America.

Journalistic career[edit | edit source]

Back home in the United States, Duncan moved to Berkeley, California with his wife.[1] There he became active the anti-war movement and became military editor of Ramparts magazine, one of the leading publications of the New Left in America.

In the February 1966 issue of Ramparts, Duncan published a fierce critique of American participation in the Vietnam conflict, entitled "The Whole Thing was a Lie!" In this article Duncan explained his opposition to the war by providing details on the American connection to the corrupt government of South Vietnam as well as atrocities in the American conduct of the war effort, including training in the use of torture in interrogations and the use of Vietnamese proxies for the summary execution of prisoners.

In 1967 Random House published a book written by Duncan entitled The New Legions which was sharply critical of the American military campaign in Vietnam.

Duncan also presented testimony on what he believed to be American war crimes to the Russell Tribunal in Roskilde, Denmark in November 1967, where he was one of the first three former American soldiers to testify.[3] There he detailed a de facto class in torture techniques conducted for members of the Special Forces entitled "Counter-Measures to Hostile Interrogation."[4]

In 1971 Duncan delivered the closing statement to the Winter Soldier Investigation conducted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Later life[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Donald Duncan," Project Delta, www.projectdelta.net/
  2. Donald Duncan, Testimony to the Russell Commission, November 1967, pg. 272.
  3. Tod Ensign, "Organizing Veterans Through War Crimes Documentation," Citizen Soldier, www2.iath.virginia.edu/
  4. Anthony A. D' Amato, with Harvey L. Gould and Larry D. Woods, "War Crimes and Vietnam: The 'Nuremberg Defense' and the Military Service Resister," California Law Review, vol. 57, 1055 (1969) Code A69d; fn. 43, pp. 31-32.

Works[edit | edit source]

  • The New Legions. New York: Random House, 1967.
  • "The Whole Thing Was a Lie!" Originally published in Ramparts, February 1966. Montana Heritage Project, www.montanaheritageproject.org/

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • John Duffett (ed.), Against the Crime of Silence: Proceedings of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunal. New York: O'Hare Books, 1968.
  • Angus MacKenzie, Secrets: The CIA's War at Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999.
  • Gerald Nicosia, Home to War: A History of Vietnam Veterans' Movement. New York: Crown Publishers, 2001.

External links[edit | edit source]

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