Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire

by Lt. Col. Gary Solis

Book cover for Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire

This is the second of a series of functional volumes on the Marine Corps' participation in the Vietnam War, which will complement the nine-volume operational and chronological series also underway. This particular history examines the Marine Corps lawyer's role in Vietnam and how that role evolved. Also considered is the effectiveness of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in a combat environment. Military law functioned in Vietnam. but was it acceptably efficient and effective? There were several thousand courts-martial tried by the 400 Marine Corps lawyers who served in Vietnam. Those trials stand as testament to the Marines, officer and enlisted, who made the justice system yield results through their work, dedication, and refusal to allow the circumstances of Vietnam to deter them. Did the military justice system really work? The reader can be the judge, for both successes and failures are depicted here. This book presents a straightforward and unflinching examination of painful subjects. Marine lawyers in Vietnam came to legal grips with drug use, racism, fragging, and the murder of noncombatants, along with the variety of offenses more usually encountered. The Marine Corps can take pride in the commanders and the judge advocates who ensured that whenever those crimes were discovered they were exposed and vigorously prosecuted. There were no cover-ups; no impediments to the judge advocates who conscientiously represented the accused or the United States.

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