Peers, Wm. Ray

1977 TLS from the WW II OSS and CIA officer, former commander of I Field Force in Vietnam, led 1969 investigation of the My Lai massacre

Price: $40.00

Description:
(1914-1984) US Army general notable for presiding over the Peers Commission investigation the My Lai massacre and other similar war crimes during the Vietnam War. UCLA 1937 graduate, received 1938 Army commission. When the US entered WW II, he was recruited into the OSS, joining Detachment 101 which carried out guerrilla operations against the Japanese in the China-India-Burma Theater. He became unit commander when its CO was injured in 1943, in 1945 became commander of all OSS operations in China south of the Yangtze River. He led a Nationalist Chinese parachute-commando unit into Nanking, securing the former Chinese capital from the Japanese and Communist Chinese before the armistice. After WW II, Peers joined the CIA, establishing the agency's 1st training program. In the Korean War, he directed covert operations by Chinese Nationalist troops into southern China from secret bases in Burma. Upon his return from China, he attended the Army War College then held intelligence and staff positions. At the onset of the Vietnam War, Peers was Asst. Deputy Chief of Staff for Special Operations then became Special Asst. for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Jan. 1967, as major general, he was named CO of the 4th Infantry, 14 months later promoted to lieut. general, he led the 50,000 US soldiers of the corps-level I Field Force. Based in the Central Highlands, I Field Force comprised some of the most aggressive formations in Vietnam, including the 1st Cavalry, 101st Airborne, and 173rd Airborne. He also coordinated operations of 4 South Vietnamese and 2 elite South Korean divisions. Under his leadership, allied troops defeated Viet Cong guerrillas and NVA regulars in the battles of Dak To (Nov. 1967) and Duc Lap (Aug. 1968. In 1969, he was ordered by Gen. Westmoreland to investigate the My Lai massacre, selected for his reputation for fairness and objectivity. In 1970 Peers issued a thorough and critical report called the “Peers Commission.” Hugh Thompson, who, with his helicopter crew, were the only soldiers who attempted to stop the massacre, said of Peers’ report: “The Army had Lieutenant General William R. Peers conduct the investigation. He conducted a very thorough investigation. Congress did not like his investigation at all, because he pulled no punches, and he recommended court-martial for I think 34 people, not necessarily for the murder but for the cover-up.” TLS “Ray” on 11 x 8 ½ personal letterhead as Lt. Gen. (Ret.), Kentfield, California, February 10 1977, to Major General & Mrs. DeWitt C. Smith Jr., Commandant, Army War College. Gen. Peers thanks the Smiths for a lovely evening at their home with a mixture of local civilians, students and AWC faculty, and he enjoyed talking to General (James) Gavin and hearing his presentation. He also asks that his appreciation be given top 2 colonels and a general and is glad that his thoughts were well received. DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. In 1942, he joined the US Army and commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, served with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. He was wounded 3 times and awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars for Valor, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged in 1946, he returned to active duty for the Korean War and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Gen. Maxwell Taylor, served in the "Old Guard" at Fort Myer, and was a battalion executive officer and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He commanded a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry Div. in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.

Condition: Very good, pencil docketing (by Smith) at upper right, light water stain and wrinkling at lower left
Type:Letter






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