In August 1965, Mr. Safer covered an attack on the hamlet of Cam Ne in the Central Highlands, which intelligence had identified as a Vietcong sanctuary, though it had been abandoned by the enemy before the Americans moved in. Mr. Safer’s account depicted Marines, facing no resistance, firing rockets and machine guns into the hamlet; torching its thatched huts with flame throwers, grenades and cigarette lighters as old men and women begged them to stop; then destroying rice stores as the villagers were led away sobbing.
“This is what the war in Vietnam is all about,” he reported. “The Vietcong were long gone. The action wounded three women, killed one baby, wounded one Marine and netted four old men as prisoners. Today’s operation is the frustration of Vietnam in miniature. To a Vietnamese peasant whose home means a lifetime of backbreaking labor, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side.”
Rest in peace.