Select Page

A Message to U.S. Pilots

July 21, 1972 — Broadcast to US military forces, Hanoi Radio, North Vietnam


This is Jane Fonda. I have come to North Vietnam to bear witness to the damage being done to the Vietnamese land and to Vietnamese lives. 

Just like the Thieu regime in Saigon which is sending its ARVN soldiers recklessly into dangerous positions for fear that it will be replaced by the U.S. government if it fails to score some strategic military gains, so Nixon is continuing to risk your lives and the lives of the American prisoners of war under the bomb in a last desperate gamble to keep his office come November. How does it feel to be used as pawns? You may be shot down, you may perhaps even be killed, but for what, and for whom?

Eighty percent of the American people, according to a recent poll, have stopped believing in the war and think we should get out, think we should bring all of you home. The people back home are crying for you. We are afraid of what must be happening to you as human beings. For it isn’t possible to destroy, to receive a salary for pushing buttons and pulling levers that are dropping illegal bombs on innocent people, without having that damage your own souls.

Tonight when you are alone, ask yourselves: What are you doing? Accept no ready answers fed to you by rote from basic training on up, but as men, as human beings, can you justify what you are doing? Do you know why you are flying these missions, collecting extra combat pay on Sunday?

The people beneath your planes have done us no harm. They want to live in peace. They want to rebuild their country. They cannot understand what kind of people could fly over their heads and drop bombs on them. Did you know that the antipersonnel bombs that are thrown from some of your planes were outlawed by the Hague Convention of 1907, of which the United States was a signatory? I think that if you knew what these bombs were doing, you would get very angry at the men who invented them. They cannot destroy bridges or factories. They cannot pierce steel or cement. Their only target is unprotected human flesh. The pellet bombs now contain rough-edged plastic pellets, and your bosses, whose minds think in terms of statistics not human lives, are proud of this new perfection. The plastic pellets don’t show up on X-rays and cannot be removed. The hospitals here are filled with babies and women and old people who will Iive for the rest of their lives in agony with these pellets embedded in them.

Can we fight this kind of war and continue to call ourselves Americans? Are these people so different from our own children, our mothers, or grandmothers? I don’t think so, except that perhaps they have a surer sense of why they are living and for what they are willing to die. 

I know that if you saw and if you knew the Vietnamese under peaceful conditions, you would hate the men who are sending you on bombing missions. I believe that in this age of remote-controlled push-button war, we must all try very, very hard to remain human beings.



Source: “After Visiting Dikes and Dams at Nam Each Hit by U.S. Aircraft,” by Jane Fonda, Hearings Regarding H.R. 16742, Restraints on Travel to Hostile Areas, 92d Congress, 2d session, September 19 and 25, 1972 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office) 1972, p. 7654.