Preface: A Snapshot of Viet Nam Service
Chapter One: Historical Context.
Chapter Two: Cold War Hysteria
Chapter Three: Criminal Intent
Chapter Four: Chronicle of Barbarism
Chapter Five: Chemical Warfare
Chapter Six: Upheaval and Resistance at Home
Chapter Seven: Upheaval and Resistance Among
Active Duty Military
Chapter Eight: Lasting Toll of War.
Chapter Nine: My Story
Appendix I: Overt and Covert US Interventions
Around the World
Appendix II: Casualties and Destruction in
Viet Nam veteran S. Brian Willson was so shocked by the
diabolical nature of the US war against Viet Nam -- irreversible
knowledge, as he describes it -- and his own appalling
ignorance from his cultural conditioning, that it sparked a
lifetime of anti-war activism.
This toxic jolt awakened him to the extent to which he and
generations of American citizens had thoughtlessly
succumbed to the relentless barrage of lies and propaganda
that infest US American culture—from the military and political
parties to religious institutions, academic and educational
institutions, sports, fraternal and professional associations,
the scientific community, the economic system, and all our
entertainment—that seek to rationalize its otherwise
inexplicable and morally repulsive behavior globally and at
US American history reveals a unifying theme: prosperity for a
few through expansion at any cost, to preserve the
“exceptional” American Way of Life (AWOL). This has been
structurally guided and facilitated by our nation’s founding
documents, including the US Constitution. From the beginning,
the US was envisaged as a White male supremacist state
serving to protect and advance the interests of private and
commercial property, and this course has never been
reversed, though the 1960s witnessed multiple aligned social
The US-waged war in Viet Nam was not an aberration, but one
of hundreds of examples in a long pattern of brutal
exploitation. A quick review of the empirical record reveals
close to 600 overt military interventions by the US into dozens
of countries since 1798, almost 400 since the end of World War
II alone, and thousands of covert interventions since 1947.
This history overwhelms any rhetoric about the United States
as a beacon of freedom and democracy, committed to
promoting domestic and global equal justice under law.
These interventions have assured de facto subsidies for US
American interests, regulated global markets on our terms,
and provided us with access to cheap or free labor and to raw
materials. Millions of people around the globe have been
murdered with virtual impunity as a result of our interventions
in a pattern that illustrates what Noam Chomsky calls the “Fifth
Freedom”—the freedom to rob and exploit. This freedom is
ultimately protected with use of force when a country or
movement seeks to protect or advance the domestic needs
and desires of its members or citizens for political freedom or
This book provides an invaluable tool for today’s activists,
however they may be similarly shocked into wakefulness—
whether by war, economic dispossession, or loss of the
freedom to dissent.
Breaking the Spell of Full Spectrum Indoctrination
DON’T THANK ME
FOR MY SERVICE:
My Viet Nam Awakening to
the Long History of US Lies
S. Brian Willson
ISBN: 978-0-9998747-3-8 $29.95 2018
Ebook $20.00 ISBN: 978-0-9998747-4-5
S. BRIAN WILLSON commanded an
AF combat security unit in Viet
Nam. He has helped create a host
of veterans actions against war,
and as a lawyer critiques the US
criminal justice system and its
Willson received the Peace Abbey
Courage of Conscience Award at
the Kennedy Library and Museum
in 1992, and in addition to his JD,
holds two honorary degrees (LL.D.
Author of On Third World Legs and
Blood on the Tracks, he is the
subject of a 2016 documentary,
“Paying the Price For Peace: The
Story of S. Brian Willson.”
While peacefully blocking US
weapons to Central America, he
lost both legs, and now walks (or
dances) via prostheses.
Dancing next to wheelchair. This photograph
was part of a 1989 USSR exhibition, Positive
Negatives: Portraits of Courageous Russian
and American Public Figures. [PHOTO: JOCK
"The first eight chapters are a history book, a Howard Zinn-like
perspective with lots and lots of footnotes. This history covers
a wide range of topics, from a review of the theft of the land of
America’s indigenous inhabitants to Cold War hysteria, and
just about everything in-between. There is a history of the
fighting in Vietnam, a history of the social justice fights in
America, and much more. It is exhausting...But don’t let that
scare you away from this book. Don’t Thank Me for My
Service is a historical resource with an important perspective.
Brian Willson comes down hard on American imperialism. His
facts and his arguments need to be heard and need to be
BILL FOGARTY, THE VVA Veteran
This gripping and carefully documented record of the US wars
in Indochina, interlaced with vivid and tragic personal
experiences, provides a unique and invaluable perspective on
some of the most awful crimes of the postwar years."
NOAM CHOMSKY, Professor Emeritus MIT, Linguist,
Public Intellectual and Author of dozens of books on
U.S. foreign policy.
"S. Brian Willson’s new book is a must read. Brian writes like
no one I have ever read. Brian speaks like no one I have ever
heard. He is a truth-teller on the highest level This book not
only reveals the horrors the United States did to the people of
Viet Nam, it also covers the insane and barbarous history of
US wars all over the world, including the genocide against the
Native Americans and the holocaust of the Africans who were
stolen against their will and brought to this country to be used
as slaves. Read this book and tell others to read it as well."
CYNTHIA McKINNEY, Former Congresswoman from
Georgia & Presidential Candidate for The Green Party in
"S. Brian Willson has a way of synthesizing information that
gets right to the heart of the matter, deepening our
understanding of the culturally embedded myths that
perpetuate our nation's violent behavior. By providing the
historical context for our involvement in Viet Nam, Willson
pulls back a curtain on U.S. imperialism that cannot easily be
"Our country badly needs more truth telling. Brian Willson tells
the truth about the Vietnam War and about the sordid US
history of lies, war and empire: and he writes as one who
courageously put his body on the line for these truths. A
MUST READ for all of us. The alternative is ever more
dangerous perpetual wars."
DANIEL ELLSBERG, author of The Pentagon Papers and
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War
"Few people really understood the terror imposed upon
innocent people by the US policies and Vietnam, Cambodia,
Laos and Central America. Brian Willson, a lawyer and a
scholar did and does. Not only has he given his body for his
beliefs but he has penned an extremely important book
complete with insights and history that make it imperative
reading for every American citizen. I highly recommend it."
"Unless the truth about a war is told over and over again, lies
about that war will take over. There is no more powerful way to
keep truth in the picture than through the personal account of
someone who was there and who has studied what put him
there as a moral responsibility. Brian Willson is driven by the
goal of preventing repetition of some of the worst crimes the
earth has seen, by preventing their recasting as noble
humanitarian efforts. If you know anyone who has been
through U.S. schools or seen U.S. movies, get him or her this
book as an antidote."
DAVID SWANSON, author of War Is A Lie
"Brian Willson's book and his continuing opposition to the
racist nature of the U.S. war against Viet Nam, Laos and
Cambodia was correct when he first spoke out, just as it is
these many years later. When congressional members of the
time and liberals alike describe the war as "a mistake", they
consciously mask the racism, the xenophobia, and the
exceptionalism that was then and is now at the root of the self-
serving justification for America's wars without end."
Co-founder and research director of CovertAction
Quarterly, now CovertAction Magazine
"S. Brian Wilson’s Don’t Thank me for my Service is a timely
reminder of the US anti-communist hysteria and terrible
devastation of the Vietnam War. In an era of repeated wars
and imperial projects, Wilson’s book serves as a lamplight
from where we have emerged and the absolute necessity of
PETER PHILLIPS Ph.D.
Professor Political Sociology, Sonoma State University
"Brian Willson is one of my personal heroes, a genuine
American “exception” to the rule of racism, militarism, and
occupation that has characterized this country’s history for too
long. His recital of that history is more necessary than ever, as
the United States enters yet another year of an endless “war
against terror.” An entire generation of Americans has now
grown up in the shadow of that war; I hope many of them will
read this book and borrow a bit of Brian’s courage.
Author, Letters From Nicaragua, American Nuremberg,
"This new book by Brian Willson, like his others, is a must read
for anyone who cares about social justice and human rights.
Willson does not mince words, but the truth is absolutely
essential if we are to put a stop to the US killing machine."
Author, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United
"Don’t Thank Me for my Service: ..... tells the Truth about the
US war in Vietnam and American history. Don’t Thank Me is of
the same genre as Howard Zinn’s “Peoples History of the US”
and should be read by every American who cares about this
country and the future of the world. Future generations will
thank Brian for writing this book which helps us learn the Truth
about our history and inspires us to find the courage to
change our country’s way of relating to the rest of the world
before it is too late."
Author, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong
Activist and Director of Peaceworkers, San Francisco
"I cannot emphasize enough how important this work is to
contribute to the true history of the US Empire that is being
scrubbed and sanitized for our "protection." If parents and
teachers made sure the young people in the US understood
the true nature of the deeply ingrained violence that the US is
steeped in, then, perhaps, it could finally end. Brian has long
been my "go-to guy" for such truth from a very real and
Peace, Social Justice, and Alternative Media Activist
"One of the privileges of my life was to travel Nicaragua with
Brian Willson after his “death and resurrection.” The
Sandinista people welcomed him with their highest honors and
heartfelt love. We traveled the entire nation in a rickety
helicopter at tree top level,The illegal, immoral and barbarous
Contra War was ravaging Nicaragua under CIA direction. Brian
Willson, a patriot and a hero, helps us to understand the
Our prime business as a nation is the arms business and war.
The so-called defense system is the world’s largest employer.
We have sown death and destruction world wide at the
expense of health care, education and infrastructure. The
result is a polity with the world’s worst distributive justice. The
globe’s richest nation has a million of its citizens living under
freeways, destitute and sick. Even more disturbing is that in the
wake of WW II we have killed some 25 million people, mostly
noncombatants. Over one trillion dollars of our hard earned
money for taxes will be spent, against our will, on updating
nuclear suicide weapons.
This catastrophe has come about by politicians whose love of
money is greater than the people and the planet.There is a
homogenous element in this military-industrial government.
Ever since the murder of John F. Kennedy the sameness of
our policy has not changed. Presidents come and go.
Some are intelligent, some are lacking any qualifications. But it
makes no difference, the Republican-Democrat pendulum
swings back and forth with perpetual war as the motif and the
constant.President Trump personifies the war business of our
nation. He has increased our international war of terror
dramatically. He has given a wake up call to many.The
National Rifle Association and the Pentagon are joined in
deadly embrace. Their performance has given us a legislature
with a steady renunciation of our citizenry, saying in effect,
"We don’t care what you want.”
The result of this rant is nationwide anger leading to the
selection of fanatics.
As a military officer, lawyer, scholar and activist Brian Willson
has identified a pathetic reality.
Sadly, our elementary, middle and high school students have
also experienced the horror of military- industrial/NRA
governance. Together with Brian Willson and the international
peace movement they will replace the military triumphalism in
our culture with the abolition of war."
BLASE BONPANE, Ph.D.
Director, Office of the Americas
"...one of the most important books I have ever read. Vietnam
Veteran S. Brian Willson tells the horrible truth, not only about
the illegal, immoral and genocidal US war in Vietnam, but he
also reveals the insane violence and killing that this country
has perpetrated on millions of poor people all over the world.
Only a very small percentage of people in this country
understand what Brian is saying. Hopefully, more people will
read this book and come to understand the unbelievable
crimes against humanity our country has committed since it
was first founded."
Associate Producer of PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE:
The Story of S. Brian Willson and Producer of: What I've
Learned About U.S. Foreign Policy.
US Air Force 1st Lieutenant S. Brian Willson (left)
and his immediate superior,Captain Joel, at Tan
Son Nhut, April 19, 1969.
THE COVER: Captain John David Borgmann burns his uniform in
anguish over his service in Viet Nam, 1980.