The date is my best recollection; it could have been my birthday, for all I remember. We were set up in an old French fort of poured concrete buildings with corrugated metal roofs, all above ground. It formed a square roughly 200m. on a side, with an earth berm and bunkers surrounding the buildings on the perimeter, and an open area just outside for Hueys, the smaller scout choppers (OH-13s, if you care) were parked between the perimeter and the hooch next door.
In the early afternoon, a 3/4 ton truck drove up outside our hooch, its markings & paint identifying it as from the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South--our "allies"), or ARVN: in this case from the National Police Field Force (NPFF). We sometimes had to go on missions they were involved in: they'd surround a village, pick out a few people, and start beating them, etc., and we'd watch, helpless to control them. Their national commander was a close ally of President Ky; he's the one in the famous photograph shooting a bound prisoner in the head at point blank range. I usually call them "Gestapo", but they're actually closer to Ordnungpolizei, the field units who rounded up the Jews of Europe.
Two of the NPFF were in the back, which was covered; momentarily they flung something out over the tailgate as if they were unloading sacks of grain: about a five foot drop. It was the body of a woman in a coma. They explained to one of the ARVN Interpreters who were attached to our teams that some one in her village had stated, probably under duress, that she had a relative with the NLF (the enemy). They had questioned her by tying her and turning her upside down in a big earthenware jar of water, then releasing her long enough to ask her a few questions before repeating the process. The last time, she didn't re-gain consciousness, so, having no further use for her, they brought her to us.
I don't remember having much of a reaction at the time, other than "Why us, dammit?" The MPs decided to hold her for "observation" to see if she came out of it; I suppose they called in a medic, but it wasn't my job, so I didn't pay too much attention. There was no point in objecting to any of this--it was "costs of war"; anyone I could have informed could see it as readily as I. The MPs put her in the back of their facility--an barbed wire enclosure with pallets and a tent with the sides up where she was tended by several other female detainees. She hadn't re-gained consciousness when she left about Noon the next day.
I didn't do anything; I was only there to see. And, if it isn't torture, why do I still see the truck, and the heat and light of the day, and the "cage" where detainees were kept by the MPs? Why do I feel stained? How can so many people know about these things and shrug them off or justify them as merely "psychological" or "legal stress?" And, when atrocities are reported--whether they be historical as with the working class Social Democrats from Hamburg in Ordnungspolizei 101, or as current as the present government of the United States--how can we shrug, and go on, and later say, "We didn't know."