The allegations are reminiscent of the military's darkest days in Vietnam.
Again, young GI's caught up in a difficult war are accused of widespread drug use and the random killing of innocent civilians, apparently for sport or thrills.
But the parents of one of the five soldiers charged with the premeditated murder of unarmed Afghans say that before one of the murders they tried to warn the Army and a U.S. Senator – and no one helped.
Now their son, 20-year-old specialist Adam Winfield, is charged with taking part in a killing three months after the Winfield family tried to blow the whistle.
The soldiers were serving at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in southern Afghanistan. On a videotaped confession obtained by ABC News, one of the soldiers, Corporal Jeremy Morlock, described how his Sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, had the men in his unit pick out civilians at random and then kill them with grenades and rifle fire.
"Gibbs called it like, 'Hey you guys wanna, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?' And you know, he set it up, like, he grabbed the dude."
Morlock told how Gibbs allegedly threw a grenade at the civilian, and then told Morlock and the others, 'Wax this guy. You know, kill this guy, kill this guy.' "
Morlock said that killing people came "too easy" to Gibbs. ""He just really doesn't have any problems with f___ing killing these, these people, to be honest."
Morlock also told investigators he believed that Gibbs was crazy and wouldn't hesitate to silence witnesses.
"If Gibbs knew that I was sitting in front of this camera right now," said Morlock, "there's no doubt in my mind that he'd f------ take me out if he had to."
In February, Adam Winfield told his parents back home in Florida about the grenade incident via Facebook.
"Did you not understand what I just told you what people did in my platoon?" wrote Adam.
"Murder," responded his mother, Emma.
"Yeah, an innocent dude," answered Adam. "I want to do something about it. The only problem is I don't feel safe here telling anyone."
Adam said that there was a rumor that he was going to talk and "the threats are already coming my way." His mother then told him she would "do the right thing" and get him some help. Adam suggested she contact the Army, and she said "ok."
As Chris Winfield, Adam's father, told ABC News in an interview, "The guy that was doing this was his superior. This was his staff sergeant."
"[Adam] said that if he told anybody over there," said Chris Winfield, " that this particular individual was keeping an eye on him. And he would never make it past that night. He would never make it home.
The Winfields say they called six different Army offices and Senator Bill Nelson, D.-Fla., to get help.
Chris Winfield said he left at least four messages. "I said my son is in Afghanistan. . . . He's in the front lines. There's a rogue sergeant out there apparently killing innocent victims. And my son found out about this. And they're threatening him because he might say something. And I said you gotta get him out of there. You need to call me back, please."
At the command center at Fort Lewis, Washington, the headquarters for his son's division, Winfield says he finally got a sergeant on the line, with a disappointing response.