Article 32 Hearing
Volume 12

August 10, 1970

Captain Richard Thoesen

MR. SEGAL:  I call CPT Thoesen, please.

(CPT Richard Thoesen was called as a witness for the defense, was sworn, and testified as follows.)

Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q  Would you state your full name?
A  Richard Craig Thoesen.
Q  And your rank?
A  Captain.
Q  And your organization?
A  Head and Headquarters, 7th Specialist Forces Group (Airborne).
Q  Your branch of service?
A  Medical Service Corps.
Q  And your armed force?
A  United States Army.
Q  Do you know the accused in this case, Captain Jeffrey R. MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir, I do.
Q  How did you come to know Captain MacDonald?
A  I came to know Captain MacDonald when he reported to the 3rd Special Forces Group.  I was his sponsor.
Q  And do you know approximately when it was that Captain MacDonald first reported to the 3rd Special Forces?
A  Approximately the latter part of August.
Q  Of the year 1969?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  In your capacity as his sponsor, what if anything, did you do?  With regard to getting to know Captain MacDonald.
A  Well, as far as a sponsor's job is concerned, sir?
Q  Yes.
A  That would be purely to help the man in-process and be oriented to his new post, new job assignment.
Q  Did you come to know Mrs. Colette MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir, I did, shortly thereafter.
Q  In what capacity or how did you come to know Mrs. MacDonald?
A  Mrs. MacDonald was moving into her house on the post.  I went over and introduced myself as one of the men working with Jeff MacDonald.
Q  Are you married, Captain Thoesen?
A  Yes, I am.
Q  Is your wife here on post?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Is your wife also in the United States Army Nurse Corps?
A  Yes, sir, she is.
Q  Were you married at the time that the MacDonalds moved onto the post here?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Did you and your wife have any social contact with Captain and Mrs. MacDonald?
A  Yes, we did, sir.
Q  How often would you say that you had occasion to meet with the MacDonalds socially?
A  Two times a week.
Q  Did you also see Captain MacDonald during the work day?
A  Yes, sir, every day.
Q  Were you and your wife good friends of Captain and Mrs. MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Did you have occasion to be at each other's homes?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Have you ever had the MacDonalds in your home?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Did you come to know the MacDonald children in any way?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  How well would you say you knew the MacDonald children?
A  Very well, sir.
Q  Based upon your observations of the MacDonalds, what would you say Captain MacDonald's attitude toward his wife, Colette, was?
A  Captain MacDonald's attitude toward his wife was definitely out of love.  They had rare communication.  In other words, a communication which I feel is very rare in married people today.  I had admiration -- they had admiration and respect for each other and they were happy.
Q  What would you say Captain MacDonald's attitude was toward his children?
A  Captain MacDonald understood his children, loved him children very much, had a respect for them as individuals and got along with them very well.
Q  Did you ever see Captain MacDonald threaten violence or, in fact, inflict bodily violence upon his wife, Colette?
A  Absolutely not.
Q  Did you ever see Captain MacDonald or hear Captain MacDonald threaten violence on either of his children?
A  No, sir.
Q  What was Colette MacDonald's attitude toward her husband, Captain MacDonald?
A  Colette MacDonald was obviously in love with Captain MacDonald, from my viewpoint.  She responded well towards him, she understood him as a person and as a professional doctor and again, had -- well, good communication with him.
Q  What was Colette MacDonald's attitude toward her children?
A  Colette MacDonald was obviously in love with her children.  She again understood them, also, as individuals.  She was responsible towards the children and she was happy with the children.
Q  Did Colette MacDonald ever threaten violence or commit violence toward her husband, Captain MacDonald?
A  No, sir.
Q  Did she ever threaten violence or commit violence towards her children?
A  No, sir.
Q  How would you describe the behavior of the MacDonald children?
A  They were well-behaved, very self-reliant.  In other words, they were very receptive and warm towards their parents and other people.
Q  Did Captain MacDonald ever have occasion to express or demonstrate his attitude toward his service in the United States Army?
A  Yes, sir.  Many times.
Q  What was Captain MacDonald's attitude toward his army service?
A  Captain MacDonald was very pleased and proud to perform in the United States Army.  He wanted to perform to the best of his ability and he enjoyed the people he served with and served under.
Q  How would you characterize Captain MacDonald as an officer?
A  Outstanding.
Q  Are you under orders in regard to be departing from this post sometime in the near future?
A  Yes, sir, I am.
Q  What are your orders?
A  I'm supposed to be in the Republic of Vietnam the first of November.
Q  Would you like to serve with Captain MacDonald as your group surgeon in combat area in Vietnam?
A  Definitely.
Q  Why is that, sir?
A  Because I think Captain MacDonald is one of the few doctors I have met that knows his job in the military.  In other words, he's a professional doctor, of course, but he also is very competent as being a staff person, that has responsibility with the other troops, and he's a person that's easy to work with.  In other words, he's -- he knows what he's doing.

MR. SEGAL:  Cross-examine.

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q  Did you ever have an occasion to see Captain MacDonald discipline his children?
A  No, sir, I did not.
Q  Did you ever have an occasion to see Mrs. MacDonald that is Colette MacDonald, discipline her children?
A  No, I did not.
Q  You described the relationship between Captain MacDonald and Mrs. MacDonald how?
A  A relationship that was evolved out of loving one another; a relationship that evolved from communicating with one another freely and openly, a relationship that had respect for each other.
Q  If I was to tell you that in December of last year Captain MacDonald had sexual relations with a WAC in Texas, would that affect your opinion?

MR. SEGAL:  That is objected to, and move to strike as impertinent, insulting and offensive to this court and to the accused.  There's no basis for such a remark.  It is an outrageous and if the government had evidence they thought they could introduce, they would if they knew how to do it.  They have no such evidence and to make such a remark in this case is only for the purpose of showing this matter in a totally tragic and unfortunate fashion.

CPT SOMERS:  The government does, in fact, have such evidence and would not have raised the point --

CPT BEALE:  Just a second, counsel.  Captain Thoesen, if you would, we'll excuse you while we have a little discussion about this matter.

(Captain Thoesen withdrew from the hearing room.)

COL ROCK:  This hearing will be recessed.

(The hearing recessed at 1539 hours, 10 August 1970.)

(The hearing reconvened at 1548 hours, 10 August 1970.)

COL ROCK:  This hearing will come to order.  Let the record reflect that all parties who were present at the recess are currently in the hearing room, with the exception of Captain Thompson, Assistant counsel for the government, and the witness, who has been excused.

CPT BEALE:  Let the record reflect that this matter has been considered and the ruling will be that the question that was put to the witness will be stricken from the record.  However, this in no way will preclude the question -- the right of the counsel for the government to produce evidence of poor character or however he wants to characterize it at the appropriate juncture in these proceedings, namely; his rebuttal.  There has been many "character" witnesses who have testified and this question obviously was not put to any of those.  It will not be permitted to be put to this particular witness at this time.

CPT SOMERS:  May I ask, sir, is it that none of the character witnesses for the defense may be asked this question?

COL ROCK:  That's correct.  

MR. SEGAL:  I think that's anticipatory, sir.  I think --

CPT BEALE:  To answer the question, Mr. Segal, it's to the effect that putting this type of a question to any of these character witnesses will not be permitted.

CPT SOMERS:  Very good.  I understand the ruling.

CPT BEALE:  You may recall the witness.

(CPT Thoesen was recalled.)

COL ROCK:  Captain Thoesen, you are reminded that you are under oath.  Proceed, counselor.

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q  Captain Thoesen, has Captain MacDonald treated you in a medical capacity?
A  Yes, sir.  He scrubbed me down for a shoulder operation at a particular time.
Q  Has he treated you at any other time?
A  No, sir.
Q  Have you observed him in the performance of his medical practice in the Army?
A  The actual practice, no, sir.
Q  But you say here that's he a good Army doctor?
A  Yes, sir.  Only from the standpoint of his reports with patients.  I can't judge a man medically; I'm not a doctor.

CPT SOMERS:  I have no further questions.

Questions by MR. SEGAL:
Q  Captain Thoesen, if I may.  How did you come to observe Captain MacDonald on a day-to-day basis?  Where were you located in relationship to where he might be located each day?
A  We work in the same building.  Captain MacDonald was the group surgeon.  I worked with Captain MacDonald as part of the medical detachment headquarters, as a Captain under him, so we worked with each other daily.
Q  What were your specific assignments?
A  I had two assignments.  One was medical supply and the other was sanitary engineering.
Q  In the carrying out of these assignments, was it necessary for you to have contact with Captain MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir.  He would be the staff officer that would want to make sure that certain programs and subjects for training were put across to the medical personnel.  He was the man responsible to make sure that I do my job correctly, officially.

MR. SEGAL:  I have nothing further.

CPT BEALE:  Anything else, Captain Somers?

CPT SOMERS:  Excuse me just a minute.

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q  As I understand it, you worked rather closely with Captain MacDonald.  Is that correct?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Did you take PT with Captain MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  What kind of physical shape is Captain MacDonald in?

MR. SEGAL:  That's objected to as being beyond the scope of direct examination.  Further re-direct examination --

CPT BEALE:  Objection is sustained.

CPT SOMERS:  No further questions.

COL ROCK:  Do you request the witness to be excused?

MR. SEGAL:  Yes, sir.

COL ROCK:  Captain Thoesen, you are advised that you are to discuss your testimony with no person other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused.  Do you understand that?

WITNESS:  Yes, sir.

COL ROCK:  You're excused, subject to recall.

MR. SEGAL:  Sir, the next witness we intended to call is flying in on the airplane.  A recent phone call has said the plane will be delayed by the rainy weather we're having.  We have witnesses immediately available; that is others here on post, but they could not be gotten here on short notice.  So in view of the hour, I'd ask that we adjourn until tomorrow morning.
     We need the time off so that we can talk to some of the investigators, in regard to the ruling here today.

CPT SOMERS:  The government has no objection.  We would like at this time, we'd like to get the phone numbers of the absent witnesses.

MR. SEGAL:  We're working on that, sir, to give the government a complete list of the numbers.  We have not had very much of an opportunity this afternoon.

COL ROCK:  Fine.  This hearing will be recessed until 0830 tomorrow morning.

(The hearing recessed at 1555 hours, 10 August 1970.)