This is a newspaper clip from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – September 14, 1988, something I saved from the memory hole. I clipped it when I first saw it, I displayed it on my office/bedroom door at the Good Samaritan House in Carbondale where I worked as a sensitive bouncer sometimes welcoming, sometimes evicting the homeless, and now I’ve been carrying it around for almost 30 years.
My Lai Veteran Killed In Fight Over Vodka
Pittsburgh (AP) – Robert W. T’Souvas died a bum, a homeless man, 39, shot in the head after an argument over a bottle of vodka under a downtown bridge.
Relatives say life had mostly been downhill for T’Souvas in the nearly two decades since he stood trial for killing two Vietnamese children in what came to be known as the My Lai massacre.
“He had problems with Vietnam over and over,” said his father, William T’Souvas, of San Jose, Calif. “He didn’t talk about it much. But he had problems with the body counts, things like that.”
“He lasted 20 years, but he was walking a tight line.”
Army Spec. 4 T’Souvas, then 19 and a high school dropout in San Jose, was a member of a platoon that entered the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. They were looking for Viet Cong soldiers, but they found civillians instead.
The platoon headed by Lt. William Calley, Jr., moved into My Lai, firing on fleeing Vietnamese, tossing grenades into houses and slaughtering animals.
When the soldiers left, at least 175 men, women, and children were dead, aaccording to an Army report in 1970. Later investigations put the toll as high as 500.
The Army charged T’Souvas with the premeditated murder of two unidentified Vietnamese with a machine gun. He was one of nine enlisted men charged.
Calley was convicted of killing at least 22 civillians at My Lai. Of the enlisted men, two soldiers were acquitted, and the charges against T’Souvas and the six others were dropped. All were given honorable discharges.
Calley was ordered to spend life in prison, but President Richard M. Nixon later reduced his sentence to 20 years. Calley served three years under house arrest at Fort Benning, Ga.
He was released when his conviction was overturned by a federal district judge, and he was not returned to house arrest when an appeals court reinstated the conviction.
Relatives of T’Souvas said that while he awaited the court-martial at Fort McPherson, Ga. he lived in a commune in Atlanta, where he met and married a woman named Rebecca. Both later spent time in jail on marijuana charges before they moved to California, the relatives said.
They raised two children, and T’Souvas worked in a bakery and at various other jobs before the marriage broke up, said Lynn T’Souvas, an aunt.
About four years ago, he met a carnival worker, Kathleen T’Souvas, now 36, the woman whom police in Pittsburgh have charged with shooting him.
Even though T’Souvas was never divorced from his first wife, family members said that his new companions had assumed his last name.
“She was more like a buddy than a wife, a drinking buddy,” his father said.
His aunt said: “She did nothing but drag him down. Everybody tried to warn him. She drank nothing but straight vodka and she didn’t care if she had a roof over her head or shoes on her feet as long as she had her vodka. I saw her fight him over a drink several times.”
On Sept. 3, police said, the couple and a homeless man, David Bozic, 42, spent the day drinking, fishing, and using Bozic’s .22 caliber pistol to shoot rats and cans under a bridge in Pittsburgh.
While Bozic was gone to get food, police said, the couple argued over a bottle of vodka that Robert T’Souvas had. Police said the woman took Bozic’s gun and shot T’Souvas once in the head.
Kathleen T’Souvas was charged with criminal homicide and is being held without bail at the Allegheny County Jail.