William R. Doyle, a tough talking Vietnam War veteran who led a decorated platoon that killed hundreds of unnarmed civilians in a case concealed by the Pentagon for decades, died November 6 in Springfield, Mo. He was 75.
Doyle was a team leader on the army's famous Tiger Force in 1967 when some members began executing women and children during a bloody rampage that lasted seven months.
A wiry staff sergeant with the ace of spades tattooed on his trigger finger, Doyle bragged he lost count of the number of civilians he shot.
"We killed anything that moved,'' he told reporters from The Toledo Blade for a series that won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. "My only regret is that I didn't kill more.''
Though army investigators recommended he and 17 others be charged with war crimes, including murder and assault, no action was taken.
The case -- the longest war-crimes investigation of the Vietnam conflict -- was quietly closed by the Pentagon in November, 1975, and remained concealed for 28 years until the newspaper obtained the secret files.
Doyle, a former Kansas City street gang member who joined the army in 1950 rather than go to jail, emerged as a key suspect during the probe.
Years later, he told reporters he wasn't worried that he would be charged because he considered himself to be "temporarily insane.''
"There's no way you can be in that situation and not be temporarily insane," he said.
Army records showed he regularly killed unarmed civilians during the platoon's brutal sweep through 40 villages -- charges he didn't deny with reporters decades later.