Article 32 Hearing
Volume 5

July 10, 1970

Colonel and Mrs. Robert Kingston

(The hearing recessed at 1415 hours, 10 July 1970.  During the recess a conference call was placed to Colonel Robert Kingston at Honolulu, Hawaii.  Persons present at the beginning of the recess were present when the connection was made at 1432 hours, 10 July 1970.)


LT MALLEY:  This is Lieutenant Malley calling from Fort Bragg, sir.  If I may I'd like to give the phone now to Colonel Rock and let him explain to you what we are going to do, and we will then ask that Mrs. Kingston and then you give the answer to the questions which both Mr. Eisman, the defense Counsel for Captain MacDonald and Captain Somers, the trial counsel, at the post here.  Can you hear me all right, sir?

COL KINGSTON:  Yes, I can.

LT MALLEY:  All right, sir, this is Colonel Rock.

COL ROCK:  Hi, Bob how are you?

COL KINGSTON:  Fine.  It is fine to hear you again.  Sorry it had to be under these circumstances.

COL ROCK:  Right.  Here in the hearing room with me are the attorneys for the accused and counsel for the government, plus myself, and this conversation is being recorded.  The purpose is at the request of the accused to obtain certain statements from you which all of us will be listening to over this conference call.  The next voice that you will hear will be that of Mr. Eisman, one of the two civilian attorneys for the accused.  Do you understand?

COL KINGSTON:  Yes, sir.

COL ROCK:  I am going to swear you before Mr. Eisman takes over.  Will you raise your right hand?

COL KINGSTON:  Yes, sir, it is.

COL ROCK:  Do you swear that the evidence you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


COL ROCK:  The next voice is Mr. Eisman.

Questions by MR. EISMAN:
Q  Colonel Kingston?
A  Yes.
Q  Can you hear me, sir?
A  Yes, I can, very well.
Q  My name is Dennis Eisman.  I am one of the counsels for Captain MacDonald.  I am going to ask you some questions regarding Captain MacDonald.  Can you hear me now?
A  Yes, I can.
Q  Col. Kingston, what is your present branch of the military service?
A  Present branch?
Q  Yes, sir.
A  I am a Colonel of Infantry.
Q  And what is your duty station?
A  I command a brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division, Vietnam.
Q  Currently, where are you?
A  Right now I am on R&R in Honolulu, Hawaii, with my family.
Q  And when are you scheduled to return to your duty station?
A  I return at 8:15 tomorrow morning back to Vietnam.
Q  Col. Kingston, in the course of your duties as an officer in the United States Army, did you have occasion to have Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald under your command?
A  I did when I commanded the 3d Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.
Q  And when in point of time was that?
A  I commanded, starting in August and I left in November of 1969.
Q  And do you recall Captain MacDonald serving under you?
A  Yes, I do.
Q  Could you tell the investigating officer what your impressions were of Captain MacDonald as an officer in the United States Army?
A  I'd be glad to.  As you know, Captain MacDonald, a Captain, a doctor, I believe this was his first duty assignment with the 3d Special Forces Group under me.  In my opinion he is a -- one of the finest, upright, most outstanding young soldiers, not just a doctor, that it has been my pleasure to have serve with me.  I think he is a -- as I recall is a very, very fine young man.
Q  Colonel, in additional to knowing Captain MacDonald -- can you hear me, Colonel?
A  Yes, I can.
Q  In addition to knowing Captain MacDonald with reference his being an officer in the Army, did you have occasion to meet both Captain MacDonald and his family outside of the normal duties which he had?  In reference to social contacts.
A  Yes, I did.  I met him both at social functions with the Group and he and his family were invited to my home on several occasions.
Q  And did you have any occasion have an opportunity to observe Captain MacDonald in reference to both his wife and his children?
A  Yes, I did.
Q  Could you tell the investigating officer what your impressions were first of all, as far as Captain MacDonald and his relationship with his wife Colette?
A  As I recall, I observed a very close and very, very fine relationship between Captain MacDonald and his wife.  I'd say he was an excellent husband, very close, very devoted, both to his wife and to his children.
Q  Did you ever have occasion to see Captain MacDonald and his wife argue violently?
A  I never saw him argue even slightly, let alone violently, no I did not.
Q  In reference to Captain MacDonald and his children, did you have an opportunity to observe his conduct with them?
A  Yes, I did, on several occasions in my home.
Q  And how would you describe his conduct toward his children?
A  As I said, a very devoted father.  He talked about his children a lot and his actions when he was in my presence with his children were very, very, very devoted.  He was obviously very close to his children.
Q  Did you ever see Captain MacDonald either verbally or physically abuse his children?
A  No, I never have.

MR. EISMAN:  At this point I have no further questions.  I will now turn the microphone over to the prosecuting attorney and see if he has any questions for you, sir.

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q  Sir, this Captain Somers, can you hear me?
A  Fine.
Q  How are you, sir?
A  Fine.
Q  My question is now can you hear me, sir.
A  Yes, I can.
Q  Very good.  With reference to Captain MacDonald's professional duties as a soldier, how much personal contact did you have with Captain MacDonald?
A  I had -- I consider quite a bit, and the reason being, as I said, he was a new doctor into the Army and after -- I felt it was my duty to make sure he was oriented properly towards the Army and towards his -- the people in the Army.  As a result, I spent more time talking with Captain MacDonald than I probably would a doctor that was not as new as he.
Q  Sir, I'm not sure I quite understand.  Did you have daily contact during this period from August to November with Captain MacDonald?
A  It was not daily, every other day, yes.
Q  Where did you usually have contact with him?
A  Where did I what?
Q  Where were you usually when this contact took place?
A  Usually in my office or in my headquarters building.  Once or twice down in his -- his place of business.
Q  What duties did he perform for you in the group, sir?
A  He was the Group Surgeon.  He was the doctor, one of my doctors in the Group, Special Forces Group.
Q  Have many doctors did you have, sir?
A  As I recall, I think I had three, between two and three at different times.  The records can bear that out, as I recall.
Q  Now specifically, what characteristics made you feel that he was a good soldier?
A  Mostly it was his attitude, and the way he accepted military life, the way he accepted the restrictions on his time, and it's mostly attitude and the way he expressed himself and the way he took an interest in not only the medical profession, but what he was doing in Special Forces.
Q  Is it that you felt it was unusual for a doctor?
A  I have had experiences with other doctors, some were outstanding and some were not too understanding and some were oriented very favorably towards the Army and some in part were not.  I wouldn't say it was unusual.  I would say it was, in my opinion, I was glad to have a doctor of the caliber of Captain MacDonald.
Q  Did you ever have an occasion, sir, to observe Captain MacDonald in his home?
A  I don't believe so.  I don't recall.  I don't believe I visited the MacDonald home.
Q  Did you ever have an occasion, sir to observe Captain MacDonald and his family in their normal home setting, if you can differentiate that question from the last?
A  Did I ever have the opportunity to observe them in their normal home setting?  Is that the question?
Q  Yes, sir, on other than a social occasion.
A  No, I have not.
Q  How would you describe Doctor MacDonald's children in terms of discipline?
A  As I recall, and again, in my home they were very well behaved, very normal children.

CPT SOMERS:  Thank you very much, sir.  I will now turn the microphone to Mr. Eisman.

MR. EISMAN:  At this time I would ask the investigating officer whether he has any questions of Colonel Kingston.  I intend to next call Mrs. Kingston who would have knowledge of the MacDonald home.

COL ROCK:  Colonel Kingston, this is Colonel Rock again.  Bob, did Captain MacDonald ever have occasion to treat you medically?

WITNESS:  He took me up to the hospital once and I had a growth removed from the right side of my forehead.  He didn't do it; he just came up with me while another doctor did it.

COL ROCK:  Right.  One final question and this one you recognize as the normal one in the proceedings of this type.  If you had the opportunity to serve again with Captain MacDonald, would you so desire?

WITNESS:  I would welcome the opportunity to serve in any capacity with Captain MacDonald.  I think he is an outstanding young man.

COL ROCK:  Okay, now I turn this over to Mr. Eisman.  There may a little delay in the next conversation but continue to hold on.

WITNESS:  Yes, I shall.

COL ROCK:  I'm not quite clear (addressing Mr. Eisman) as to what will now take place.

MR. EISMAN:  I want to call Mrs. Kingston who is familiar with the MacDonald home.

COL ROCK:  Yes, okay.

MR. EISMAN:  Colonel, could you now ask your wife to take the phone and Colonel Rock will address her and swear her as a witness.


MRS. KINGSTON:  Good morning.

COL ROCK:  Good morning, how are you?

MRS. KINGSTON:  Fine, thank you.

COL ROCK:  If you would please raise your hand; I wish to swear you in.

MRS. KINGSTON:  Okay, it's raised.

COL ROCK:  Do you swear that the evidence you about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


COL ROCK:  All right, the next question that you will hear will be that from Mr. Eisman, counsel for the defense.

MRS. KINGSTON:  Thank you.

MR. EISMAN:  Mrs. Kingston, what is your full name, please?
A  My full name is Josephine Sprague Kingston.
Q  And you are the wife of Colonel Kingston who has just testified in this matter?
A  Yes, I am.
Q  Mrs. Kingston, have you ever had the occasion to know Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald and his wife, Colette and their two children?
A  Yes, I know both of them, from September 1969 until January 25th 1970.
Q  Mrs. Kingston, could you please explain to the investigating officer how you knew the MacDonalds?
A  Well, I first met Mrs. MacDonald at my opening tea and my daughter was with me, and Colette and Leslie, my daughter, became very close friends, and when Leslie had a friend visit her from BMI [sic; VMI] we wanted to find another young couple that they could double date with, and my husband suggested that we contact Captain MacDonald and that's how our friendship was caused.
Q  And after the friendship was formed did you yourself have occasion to visit with the MacDonalds in their home?
A  Yes, on many occasions we were invited to the MacDonalds with Leslie's friend who was from BMI [sic; VMI] once or twice, and then my husband left to go to Vietnam, they became our sponsors, not because they had to but because they chose to; including taking us to the plane when we left with our luggage and they also -- after which they were going to put our car in storage.
Q  When you say sponsors, how do you mean?
A  Well, we were just left with sort of a lot of things to do, and for instance putting the car in and someone to take us and put us on the plane, and just general thing that, that the people help each other with, and volunteered to do that for us.
Q  And you say you've had many occasions on which you saw the entire MacDonald family in their home?
A  Yes, I did because when my husband left they were gracious and they invited us many times to their home.  We went to buffet supper on Sunday at the club and then afterwards we drove to the movies and then afterwards we'd go back for a drink before we went home.
Q  Have you had occasion to view Captain MacDonald and his wife --
A  I didn't hear you.
Q  Have you had occasion to view Captain MacDonald with his wife?
A  Yes, I have.  I thought that it was a very good relationship and I remarked to my daughter that I hoped she had a marriage that was successful like that, and in these times it was nice to feel that there were some people who still loved each other.
Q  Did you also have occasion to see Captain MacDonald with his children?
A  Yes, the children, the children were very sweet children and were very well behaved, and when we'd go over there on Sundays before leaving for the buffet, they would be lying on the floor on a blanket watching TV and they came with us when we left there to board the plane.  Captain MacDonald took them in the car with us and his wife.
Q  How would you describe Captain MacDonald's relationship with his children?
A  I think he was a very loving father.  On several occasions I ran into him unexpectedly at the PX or just driving around, and on weekends his children were always with him and when I went down after Christmas he had purchased a horse for the children.  I remember that we tried to persuade him to just put the horse outside and have them look at it Christmas Day, and he thought about doing it and then he -- we'd go down with him to feed the horse and the children were with us.
Q  Did you ever see Captain MacDonald abuse in any way his children either verbally or physically?
A  No, never.  In fact, he was the opposite, if anything.

MR. EISMAN:  At this time, Mrs. Kingston, thank you very much; I will now turn you over to the prosecuting attorney who may have some questions to ask you.  Thank you very much.

CPT SOMERS:  Mrs. Kingston, this is Captain Somers.  Can you hear me?

A  Good morning.
Q  Did you consider yourself and do you consider yourself to be a good friend of Captain MacDonald?
A  I certainly do.  I consider them to -- to be -- considered myself to be one of the best friends that they had since they came into the Army in September.
Q  Would you describe, please, how well disciplined you feel the children were?
A  The children were just -- were just loving sweet, normal children, obviously from a couple that loved them.  They -- they were very well -- they were well behaved and they were kept very clean, and Colette spent a lot of time just reading to them and I know they were looking -- she and Captain MacDonald were looking forward to the new baby and had made a lot of plans.
Q  When one of the children needed discipline, who would normally discipline them?
A  Well, I think if they -- I didn't see them really need discipline, and when they were in the living room, and they were told to go to bed, whichever parent happened to present and told them to pick up their toys and go to bed.
Q  Thank you very much, I will give the microphone back to Mr. Eisman now.

MR. EISMAN:  Thank you Mrs. Kingston.  At this time I will turn the microphone over to Colonel Rock, the investigating officer, who might have questions for you.

COL ROCK:  I have no questions at this time.  I must however advise them not to discuss this testimony.

MR. EISMAN:  Mrs. Kingston, Colonel Rock has no questions of you at this time.


MR. EISMAN:  However, he would like to advise you as to certain responsibilities you have regarding this matter.

MRS. KINGSTON:  I see.  Can you speak a little louder, because this is not clear?

COL ROCK:  This is the investigating officer again.  Are both of you present where you can hear?  I would like both of you there by the phone so you can hear what I have to say, so that both of you can independently answer to the statement that I will read to you.

MRS. KINGSTON:  Yes, I will and then I'll hand the phone to my husband.  Is that what you want?

COL ROCK:  Yes, I'll do it independently.  You are advised that you will discuss your testimony with no person other than either counsel for the accused, and that's Mr. Eisman, or counsel for the government, that's Captain Somers.  Do you understand that?


COL ROCK:  Very well, now may I speak to Bob.

MRS. KINGSTON:  Thank you.


COL ROCK:  You are advised, Colonel Kingston, that you will discuss your testimony with no person other than counsel for the accused, Mr. Eisman, or counsel for the government, Captain Somers, Captain Somers.  Do you understand that?

COL KINGSTON:  I understand.

COL ROCK:  Fine. (The conference call ended at 1454 hours, 10 July 1970.)

MR. EISMAN:  At this time I would respectfully request on a matter of personal nature, of health, that the hearing be recessed until Monday morning.

COL ROCK:  Does counsel for the government concur?

CPT SOMERS:  Counsel for the government has no objection to that request.

COL ROCK:  This hearing will be closed until 0830 hours, Monday, 13 July.

(The hearing adjourned at 1456 hours, 10 July 1970.)