Sources familiar with the review did not offer details of the charge recommended against Mr. Hawkins. The most serious allegation he faced in 1975 was the fatal shooting of an elderly carpenter in the Song Ve Valley in July, 1967 - for which Army investigators in 1975 recommended he be charged with murder. The former officer was accused by fellow soldiers of ordering the shootings of more than a dozen other unarmed civilians, but investigators in 1975 did not recommend charges in those cases.
Mr. Hawkins, who lives in the Orlando, Fla., area, declined to comment Friday. But in an extensive interview with The Blade in 2003, he admitted killing the elderly man on the edge of the Song Ve River because "he was making too much noise."
Based on classified records and interviews with former soldiers and Vietnamese civilians, The Blade series described the 45-member unit's rampage through two provinces between May and November, 1967 - the longest-known series of atrocities committed by a U.S. battle unit in the war.
Soldiers hurled grenades into underground bunkers full of women and children. They shot elderly farmers toiling in their fields. They severed the ears of the dead to fashion into necklaces. One former unit medic told The Blade that soldiers "would go into villages and just shoot everybody. We didn't need an excuse. If they were there, they were dead."
Records show that two soldiers in the platoon, Lt. Donald Wood of Findlay, and Sgt. Gerald Bruner of Colon, Mich., tried to stop the atrocities but were transferred from the platoon after they complained to superiors.