Lieutenant William Crandell, who had served in the Americal Division in Vietnam, delivered the opening statement of the Winter Soldier Investigation on 31 January 1971. The goals he said, were not to condemn individual soldiers, but to illustrate the effects of the policies and tactics used in Vietnam, and to show who was responsible for those policies. There would only be direct testimony of what soldiers witnessed during their service, without any show trials, verdicts, or fake indictments of public figures.* He included this heartfelt summation of how he believed that his service in Vietnam had been a lie...
We went to preserve the peace and our testimony will show that we have set all of Indochina aflame. We went to defend the Vietnamese people and our testimony will show that we are committing genocide against them. We went to fight for freedom and our testimony will show that we have turned Vietnam into a series of concentration camps.
We went to guarantee the right of self-determination to the people of South Vietnam and our testimony will show that we are forcing a corrupt and dictatorial government upon them. We went to work toward the brotherhood of man and our testimony will show that our strategy and tactics are permeated with racism. We went to protect America and our testimony will show why our country is being torn apart by what we are doing in Vietnam.
* Later investigations by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division did find that some of the witnesses related hearsay while testifying, but that few actually made anything up. Many of the allegations made simply could not be substantiated because the participants refused to identify individuals or provide other details that would allow the Army to seek out and prosecute offenders.