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My Lai Massacre

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Coordinates: 15°10′42″N 108°52′10″E / 15.17833°N 108.86944°E / 15.17833; 108.86944

Mỹ Lai Massacre
Location Sơn Mỹ village, Sơn Tịnh district of South Vietnam
Date March 16, 1968
Target Mỹ Lai 4 and Mỹ Khe 4 hamlets
Attack type Massacre
Deaths 347 according to the U.S Army (not including Mỹ Khe killings), others estimate more than 400 killed and injuries are unknown, Vietnamese government lists 504 killed in total from both Mỹ Lai and Mỹ Khe
Perpetrators Task force from the United States Army Americal Division
2LT. William Calley (convicted and then released by President Nixon to serve house arrest for three years)

{{#invoke: Navbox | navbox }} The My Lai Massacre (Vietnamese: thảm sát Mỹ Lai{{#invoke:Namespace detect|main}} [tʰɐ̃ːm ʂɐ̌ːt mǐˀ lɐːj],; /[[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˌ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|m]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˈ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|l]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]]/, /[[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˌ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|m]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˈ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|l]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]]/, or /[[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˌ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|m]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|ˈ]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|l]][[Help:IPA for English#Key|]]/)[1] was the Vietnam War mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968, by United States Army soldiers of "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Most of the victims were women, children, infants, and elderly people. Some of the bodies were later found to be mutilated[2] and many women allegedly raped prior to the killings.[3] While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest.

The massacre took place in the hamlets of Mỹ Lai and My Khe of Sơn Mỹ village.[4][5] The event is also known as the Sơn Mỹ Massacre (Vietnamese: thảm sát Sơn Mỹ{{#invoke:Namespace detect|main}}) or sometimes as the Song Mỹ Massacre.[6] The US military codeword for the "Viet Cong [sic] stronghold" was "Pinkville".[7]

When the incident became public knowledge in 1969, it prompted global outrage. The massacre also increased domestic opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Three US servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were initially denounced by several US Congressmen as traitors in an attempt to cover up the massacre. They received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps. The three were later widely praised and decorated by the army for their heroic actions. [8]

Incident Edit

Background Edit

Company C of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division, arrived in South Vietnam in December 1967. Though their first month in Vietnam passed without any direct enemy contact, by mid-March the company had suffered 28 incidents involving mines or booby-traps which caused numerous injuries and five deaths.

My Lai massacre woman and children

Vietnamese women and children in Mỹ Lai before being killed in the massacre, March 16, 1968.[9] They were killed seconds after the photo was taken.[10] Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle

During the Tet Offensive of January 1968, attacks were carried out in Quảng Ngãi by the 48th Battalion of the National Liberation Front (NLF), commonly referred to by the Americans as the Vietcong or Victor Charlie (from the initials corresponding with the NATO phonetic alphabet). US military intelligence assumed that the 48th NLF Battalion, having retreated and dispersed, was taking refuge in the village of Sơn Mỹ, in Quang Ngai Province. A number of specific hamlets within that village—designated Mỹ Lai 1, 2, 3, and 4—were suspected of harboring the 48th. (In February, the Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre and Ha My massacre were perpetrated by South Korean Marines in Quang Nam, a neighboring province of Quang Ngai.)

US forces planned a major offensive against those hamlets using Task Force Barker, a battalion-size unit made up of three rifle companies of the Americal Division and led by Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Barker. Colonel Oran K. Henderson urged his officers to "go in there aggressively, close with the enemy and wipe them out for good."[11] Barker ordered the 1st Battalion commanders to burn the houses, kill the livestock, destroy foodstuffs, and perhaps to close the wells.[12]

On the eve of the attack, at the Charlie Company briefing, Captain Ernest Medina told his men that nearly all the civilian residents of the hamlets in Sơn Mỹ village would have left for the market by 07:00 and any who remained would be NLF or NLF sympathizers.[13] He was asked whether the order included the killing of women and children. Those present later gave different accounts of Medina's response. Some, including platoon leaders, testified that the orders as they understood them were to kill all guerrilla and North Vietnamese combatants and "suspects" (including women and children, as well as all animals), to burn the village, and pollute the wells.[14] He was also quoted as saying "They're all V.C., now go and get them" and was heard to say "Who is my enemy?" Medina added, "Anybody that was running from us, hiding from us, or appeared to be the enemy. If a man was running, shoot him, sometimes even if a woman with a rifle was running, shoot her."[15]

Company C was to enter the hamlet, spearheaded by its first platoon. The other two companies in the task force were to cordon off the village.

Killings Edit

Dead man and child from the My Lai massacre

Dead man and child. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle

On the morning of March 16, Charlie Company landed following a short artillery and helicopter gunship preparation. Though the Americans found no enemy fighters in the village, many soldiers suspected there were NLF troops hiding underground in the homes of their wives or elderly parents. The US soldiers, including a platoon led by Second Lieutenant William Calley, went in shooting at what they claimed to have deemed an enemy position.

Once the first civilians were wounded or killed by indiscriminate fire, the soldiers began attacking humans and animals alike, with firearms, grenades and bayonets. The scale of the massacre grew, the brutality only increasing with each killing. BBC News described the scene: "Dozens of people, herded into an irrigation ditch and other locations, were killed with automatic weapons."[16]

A large group of about 70–80 villagers, rounded up by the 1st Platoon in the center of the village, were killed on an order given by Calley, who also participated.

Members of the 2nd Platoon killed at least 60–70 Vietnamese, as they swept through the northern half of Mỹ Lai 4 and through Binh Tay, a small subhamlet about 400 metres (Bad rounding here{{#invoke:Math|precision_format| 1,312.3359580052 | 1-3 }} ft) north of Mỹ Lai 4.[4] The platoon suffered one dead and seven wounded by mines and booby traps.[4]

After the initial "sweeps" by the 1st and 2nd Platoons, the 3rd Platoon was dispatched to deal with any "remaining resistance." They immediately began killing every living person and animal they could find. This included Vietnamese who had emerged from their hiding places as well as the wounded, found moaning in the heaps of bodies. The 3rd Platoon also rounded up and killed a group of seven to twelve women and children.[4]

Since Charlie Company had encountered no enemy opposition, the 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, was transported by air to its landing zone at between 08:15 and 08:30 and attacked the subhamlet of Mỹ Khe 4, killing as many as 90 people.

Over the following two days, both battalions were involved in additional burning and destruction of dwellings, as well as mistreatment of Vietnamese detainees. While most of the soldiers did not participate in the crimes, they neither protested nor complained to their superiors.[17]

Helicopter intervention Edit

Warrant Officer One Hugh Thompson, Jr., a helicopter pilot from an aero-scout team, saw a large number of dead and dying civilians as he began flying over the village—all of them infants, children, women and old men, with no signs of draft-age men or weapons anywhere. Thompson and his crew witnessed an unarmed passive woman being kicked and shot at point-blank range by Captain Medina (Medina later claimed that he thought she had a grenade).[18] The crew made several attempts to radio for help for the wounded. They landed their helicopter by a ditch, which they noted was full of bodies and in which there was movement. Thompson asked a sergeant he encountered there (David Mitchell of the 1st Platoon) if he could help get the people out of the ditch, and the sergeant replied that he would "help them out of their misery". Thompson, shocked and confused, then spoke with Second Lieutenant Calley, who claimed to be "just following orders". As the helicopter took off, they saw Mitchell firing into the ditch.

Thompson then saw a group of civilians (again consisting of children, women and old men) at a bunker being approached by ground personnel. Thompson landed and told his crew that if the soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire at these soldiers. Thompson later testified that he spoke with a lieutenant (identified as Stephen Brooks of the 2nd Platoon) and told him there were women and children in the bunker, and asked if the lieutenant would help get them out. According to Thompson, "he [the lieutenant] said the only way to get them out was with a hand grenade". Thompson testified that he then told Brooks to "just hold your men right where they are, and I'll get the kids out". He found 12–16 people in the bunker, coaxed them out and led them to the helicopter, standing with them while they were flown out in two groups.

Returning to Mỹ Lai, Thompson and other air crew members noticed several large groups of bodies. Spotting some survivors in the ditch, Thompson landed again. A crew member entered the ditch and returned with a bloodied but apparently unharmed child who was flown to safety. The child was thought to be a girl, but later turned out to be a four-year-old boy. Thompson then reported what he had seen to his company commander, Major Frederic W. Watke, using terms such as "murder" and "needless and unnecessary killings". Thompson's reports were confirmed by other pilots and air crew.[19]

For their actions, Thompson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and his crew were awarded Bronze Star medals. Andreotta received his medal posthumously, as he was killed in action on April 8, 1968.[20] As the DFC citation included a fabricated account of rescuing a young girl from My Lai from "intense crossfire"[21] Thompson threw his medal away.[22][23] He later received a Purple Heart for other services in Vietnam.[24] In 1998, the helicopter crew's medals were replaced by the Soldier's Medal, "the highest the US Army can award for bravery not involving direct conflict with the enemy." The medal citations state they were "for heroism above and beyond the call of duty while saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of non-combatants by American forces at My Lai".[25] Thompson initially refused the medal when the US Army wanted to award it quietly. He demanded it be done publicly and that his crew also be honored in the same way.[26][27] The veterans also made contact with the survivors of Mỹ Lai.[28]

Aftermath Edit

MyLai Haeberle P33 BodiesNearBurningHouse

Dead bodies outside a burning dwelling. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle

Owing to the chaotic circumstances and the Army's decision not to undertake a definitive body count, the number of civilians killed at Mỹ Lai cannot be stated with certainty. Estimates vary from source to source, with 347 and 504 being the most commonly cited figures. The memorial at the site of the massacre lists 504 names, with ages ranging from one to 82. A later investigation by the US Army arrived at a lower figure of 347 deaths,[29] the official US estimate.

Upon returning to their base at about 1100, Thompson heatedly reported the massacre to his superiors.[30] His allegations of civilian killings quickly reached Lieutenant Colonel Frank Barker, the operation's overall commander. Barker radioed his executive officer to find out from Captain Medina what was happening on the ground. Medina then gave the cease-fire order to Charlie Company to "knock off the killing".

Thompson made an official report of the killings, and was interviewed by Colonel Oran Henderson, the commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade (the parent organization of the 20th Infantry).[31] Concerned, senior Americal officers cancelled similar planned operations by Task Force Barker against other villages (My Lai 5, My Lai 1, etc.) in Quang Ngai Province, possibly preventing the additional massacre of hundreds, if not thousands, of Vietnamese civilians.[32]

Reporting, cover-up and investigations Edit

The first reports claimed that "128 Viet Cong and 22 civilians" were killed in the village during a "fierce fire fight". General William C. Westmoreland, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam commander, congratulated the unit on the "outstanding job". As related at the time by the Army's Stars and Stripes magazine, "U.S. infantrymen had killed 128 Communists in a bloody day-long battle." On March 16, 1968, in or around the official press briefing known as the “Five O’Clock Follies”, "a mimeographed release included this passage: 'In an action today, Americal Division forces killed 128 enemy near Quang Ngai City. Helicopter gunships and artillery missions supported the ground elements throughout the day.'"[33]

Initial investigations of the Mỹ Lai operation were undertaken by the 11th Light Infantry Brigade's commanding officer, Colonel Henderson, under orders from the Americal Division's executive officer, Brigadier General George H. Young. Henderson interviewed several soldiers involved in the incident, then issued a written report in late April claiming that some 20 civilians were inadvertently killed during the operation. The Army at this time was still describing the event as a military victory that had resulted in the deaths of 128 enemy combatants.

Six months later, Tom Glen, a 21-year-old soldier of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, wrote a letter to General Creighton Abrams, the new overall commander of US forces in Vietnam, accusing the Americal Division (and other units of the US military) of routine and pervasive brutality against Vietnamese civilians. The letter was detailed and its contents echoed complaints received from other soldiers.

Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Army major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference Mỹ Lai (Glen had limited knowledge of the events there). In his report, Powell wrote, "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal Division[34] soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Powell's handling of the assignment was later characterized by some observers as "whitewashing" the atrocities of Mỹ Lai.[35] In May 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, told CNN's Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored."[36]

Independently of Glen, a former member of Charlie Company, Ronald Ridenhour, sent a letter in March 1969 detailing the events at Mỹ Lai to President Richard M. Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and numerous members of Congress.[37] Most recipients of Ridenhour's letter ignored it, with the exception of Congressman Morris Udall[38] and Senators Barry Goldwater and Edward Brooke.[39] Ridenhour had learned about the events at Mỹ Lai secondhand, by talking to members of Charlie Company while he was still in the Army.

Eventually, Calley was charged with several counts of premeditated murder in September 1969, and 25 other officers and enlisted men were later charged with related crimes. It was another two months before the American public learned about the massacre and trials.

In May 1970, a sergeant who participated in Operation Speedy Express wrote a confidential letter to then Army Chief of Staff Westmoreland describing civilian killings on the scale of the massacre occurring as "a My Lay each month for over a year" during 1968-1969. Two other letters to this effect from enlisted soldiers to military leaders in 1971, all signed "Concerned Sergeant", were uncovered within declassified National Archive documents. The letters describe routine civilian killings as a policy of population pacification. Army policy also stressed very high body counts and without regard to who was killed. Alluding to indiscriminate killings described as unavoidable, Commander of the Ninth Division, then Maj. Gen. Julian Ewell in September 1969 submitted a confidential report to Westmoreland and other generals describing the countryside in some areas of Vietnam as resembling the battlefields of Verdun.[40][41]

Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, after extensive conversations with Calley, broke the Mỹ Lai story on November 12, 1969, on the Associated Press wire service;[42] on November 20, Time, Life and Newsweek magazines all covered the story, and CBS televised an interview with Paul Meadlo, a soldier in Calley's unit during the massacre. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) published explicit photographs of dead villagers killed at Mỹ Lai.

In November 1969, General William R. Peers was appointed to conduct a thorough investigation into the Mỹ Lai incident and its subsequent cover-up. Peers' final report, published in March 1970, was highly critical of top officers for participating in the cover-up and the Charlie Company officers for their actions at Mỹ Lai 4.[43] According to Peers's findings:

[The 1st Battalion] members had killed at least 175–200 Vietnamese men, women, and children. The evidence indicates that only 3 or 4 were confirmed as Viet Cong although there were undoubtedly several unarmed VC (men, women, and children) among them and many more active supporters and sympathizers. One man from the company was reported as wounded from the accidental discharge of his weapon.[4]
However, critics of the Peers Commission pointed out that it sought to place the real blame on four officers who were already dead, foremost among them the commander of Task Force Barker, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Barker, who was killed in a mid-air collision on June 13, 1968.

Court martial Edit

On November 17, 1970, the United States Army charged 14 officers, including Major General Samuel W. Koster, the American Division's commanding officer, with suppressing information related to the incident. Most of those charges were later dropped. Brigade commander Henderson was the only officer who stood trial on charges relating to the cover-up; he was acquitted on December 17, 1971.[44]

In a four-month-long trial, despite claims that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Captain Medina, Calley was convicted on March 29, 1971, of premeditated murder for ordering the shootings. He was initially sentenced to life in prison at hard labor. Two days later, however, President Richard Nixon made the controversial decision to have Calley released, pending appeal of his sentence. Calley's sentence was later adjusted, so that he would eventually serve three and one-half years under house arrest at Fort Benning.

In a separate trial, Captain Medina denied giving the orders that led to the massacre, and was acquitted of all charges, effectively negating the prosecution's theory of "command responsibility", now referred to as the "Medina standard". Several months after his acquittal, however, Medina admitted that he had suppressed evidence and had lied to Colonel Henderson about the number of civilian deaths.[45]

Most of the enlisted men who were involved in the events at Mỹ Lai had already left military service, and were thus legally exempt from prosecution. In the end, of the 26 men initially charged, Calley was the only one convicted.

Some have argued that the outcome of the Mỹ Lai courts-martial was a reversal of the laws of war that were set forth in the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals.[46] Secretary of the Army Howard Callaway was quoted in The New York Times as stating that Calley's sentence was reduced because Calley honestly believed that what he did was a part of his orders—a rationale that stands in direct contradiction of the standards set at Nuremberg and Tokyo, where German and Japanese soldiers were executed for similar acts.

Survivors Edit

In early 1972, the camp (at Mỹ Lai 2) where the survivors of the Mỹ Lai Massacre had been relocated was largely destroyed by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) artillery and aerial bombardment. The destruction was officially attributed to "Viet Cong terrorists". The truth was revealed by Quaker service workers in the area through testimony (in May 1972) by Martin Teitel at hearings before the Congressional Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees. In June 1972, Teitel's account of the events was published in the New York Times.[47]

More than a thousand people turned out March 16, 2008, forty years after the massacre, to remember the victims of one of the most notorious chapters of the Vietnam War. The memorial drew the families of the victims and returning US war veterans alike.[48]

On August 19, 2009, Calley made his first public apology for the massacre in a speech to the Kiwanis club of Greater Columbus Georgia:[49]

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai", he told members of the Kiwanis club. "I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."[50][51]

Effects and analysis Edit

Some military observers concluded that Mỹ Lai showed the need for more and better volunteers to provide stronger leadership for the troops. As the Vietnam War dragged on, the number of well-trained and experienced career soldiers on the front lines dropped sharply as casualties and combat rotation took their toll. These observers claimed the absence of the many bright young men who avoided military service through college attendance or homeland service caused the talent pool for new officers to become very shallow.[52] They pointed to Calley, a young, unemployed college dropout, as an example of the raw and inexperienced recruits being rushed through officer training. Others pointed out problems with the military's insistence on unconditional obedience to orders while at the same time limiting the doctrine of "command responsibility" to the lowest ranks. Others saw Mỹ Lai and related war crimes as a direct result of the military's attrition strategy, with its emphasis on "body counts" and "kill ratios". The fact that the massacre was successfully covered up for 18 months was seen as a prime example of the Pentagon's "Culture of Concealment"[53] and of the lack of integrity that permeated the Defense establishment. South Korean Vietnam Expeditionary Forces Commanding Officer General Chae Myung Shin remarked, "Calley tried to get revenge for the deaths of his troops. In a war, this is natural."[54]

Participants Edit

Commanders Edit

  • Lieutenant Colonel Frank A. Barker – commander of Task Force Barker who ordered the destruction of the village, controlled the artillery preparation and combat assault from his helicopter; he was killed in Vietnam on June 13, 1968, before the investigation had begun.[4][55]
  • Lieutenant Stephen Brooks - platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company.
  • Second Lieutenant William L. Calley – platoon leader of 1st Platoon, Charlie Company.
  • Colonel Oran K. Henderson – brigade commander who ordered the attack; he had been in a helicopter over Mỹ Lai.[4]
  • Major General Samuel W. Koster – commander of the Americal Division.
  • Captain Eugene Kotouc – military intelligence officer who provided some of the information on which the Mỹ Lai combat assault was based; together with Medina and a South Vietnamese police officer, he tortured and executed suspects later that day.[17]
  • Captain Ernest Medina – company commander of Charlie Company who planned, ordered, and supervised the execution of the operation in Sơn Mỹ village.[56]

1st Platoon, Charlie Company Edit

  • Sergeant Michael Bernhardt – refused to participate in the killing of civilians. Captain Medina threatened Sergeant Bernhardt to deter him from writing to Bernhardt's congressman to expose the massacre and, as a result, was allegedly given more dangerous duties such as point duty on patrol.[57] Later he would help expose and detail the massacre in numerous interviews with the press, and also served as a prosecution witness in the trial of Medina, where he was subjected to intense cross examination by defense counsel F. Lee Bailey. Recipient of the New York Society for Ethical Culture's 1970 Ethical Humanist Award.[58]
  • Herbert Carter – platoon "tunnel rat". He claimed he shot himself in the foot in order to be MEDEVACed out of the village.
  • Dennis Conti – testified he initially refused to shoot, but later fired some M79 grenade launcher rounds at a group of fleeing people with unknown effect.
  • James Dursi – killed a mother and child, then refused to kill anyone else even when ordered to do so.
  • Ronald Grzesik – a team leader. He claimed he followed orders to round up civilians, but refused to kill them.
  • Robert Maples – stated to have refused to participate.
  • Paul Meadlo – said he was afraid of being shot if he did not participate. Lost his foot to a land mine the next day. Later, he publicly admitted his part in the massacre.
  • Sergeant David Mitchell – accused by witnesses of shooting people at the ditch site; pleaded not guilty. Mitchell was acquitted. His attorney was Ossie Brown of Baton Rouge, thereafter the district attorney of East Baton Rouge Parish.[59]
  • Varnado Simpson – committed suicide in 1997, citing guilt over several murders committed in Mỹ Lai.
  • Charles Sledge – radio operator, later prosecution witness.
  • Harry Stanley – claimed to have refused to participate.
  • Esequiel Torres – previously had tortured and hanged an old man because Torres found his bandaged leg suspicious. He and Roschevitz (described below) were involved in the shooting of a group of ten women and five children in a hut. Later he was ordered by Calley to shoot a number of people with a M60 machine gun; he fired a burst before refusing to fire again, after which Calley took his weapon and opened fire himself.
  • Frederick Widmer – Widmer, who has been the subject of pointed blame, is quoted as saying, "The most disturbing thing I saw was one boy—and this was something that, you know, this what haunts me from the whole, the whole ordeal down there. And there was a boy with his arm shot off, shot up half, half hanging on and he just had this bewildered look in his face and like, What did I do, what's wrong? He was just, you know, it's, it's hard to describe, couldn't comprehend. I, I shot the boy, killed him and it's—I'd like to think of it more or less as a mercy killing because somebody else would have killed him in the end, but it wasn't right."[60]

Other soldiers Edit

Hugh Tompson Jr

Hugh Thompson, Jr. rescued Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre.

  • William Doherty and Michael Terry – soldiers in the 3rd Platoon who killed the wounded in the ditch.[37]
  • Ronald L. Haeberle – photographer attached to the 11th Brigade information office who accompanied C Company.
  • Nicholas Capezza – chief medic in Charlie Company. He insisted he saw nothing unusual.
  • Sergeant Minh – ARVN interpreter who confronted Captain Medina about the number of civilians that were killed. Medina replied, "Sergeant Minh, don't ask anything – those were the orders."[61]
  • Gary Roschevitz – grabbed an M16 rifle from Varnado Simpson to kill five Vietnamese prisoners.[62] According to various witnesses, he later forced seven women to undress with the intention of raping them. When the women refused, he reportedly shot them.[63]

Rescue helicopter crew Edit

  • Warrant Officer One Hugh Thompson, Jr. – helicopter pilot who confronted the ground forces personally. Died 6 January 2006.
  • Specialist Four Glenn Andreotta – crew chief. Killed In Action: 8 April 1968.
  • Specialist Four Lawrence Colburn – door gunner.

Photographs Edit

The massacre, like many other operations in Vietnam, was captured in photographs by US Army personnel. The most published and graphic ones were taken by Ronald Haeberle, a U.S Army 'Public Information Detachment' photographer who accompanied the men of Charlie Company that day. Some of the black-and-white photographs he took were with an Army camera and were either subject to censorship or did not depict any Vietnamese casualties when published in an Army newspaper. Haeberle also took color photographs with his own camera while on duty the same day, which he kept and later sold to the media.

The derision "baby killers" was often used by anti-war activists against American soldiers, largely as a result of the Mỹ Lai Massacre.[64] Although American soldiers had been so taunted since at least 1966, Mỹ Lai and the Haeberle photographs further solidified the stereotype of drug-addled soldiers who killed babies—according to M. Paul Holsinger, the And babies poster, which used a Haeberle photo, was "easily the most successful poster to vent the outrage that so many felt about the conflict in Southeast Asia. Copies are still frequently seen in retrospectives dealing with the popular culture of the Vietnam War era or in collections of art from the period."[65]

Another soldier, John Henry Smail of the 3rd Platoon, took at least 16 color photographs depicting US Army personnel, helicopters, and aerial views of Mỹ Lai.[66] These, along with Haeberle's photographs, were included in the 'Report of the Department of the Army review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident'. Roger Louis Alaux, an artillery lieutenant who was with Captain Medina during the massacre, also took some photographs that day, including aerial views of Mỹ Lai from a helicopter and of the landing zone.

Media Edit

My Lai Memorial Site - Vietnam - Diorama of Massacre

My Lai massacre memorial site, near Quang Ngai, Vietnam.

In 1989, the British television station Yorkshire Television broadcast the documentary Four Hours in My Lai as part of the ITV networked series First Tuesday. Using eyewitness statements from both Vietnamese and Americans, the program revealed new evidence about the massacre.

On March 15, 2008, the BBC broadcast the documentary The My Lai Tapes[67] on Radio 4, and subsequently on the BBC World Service in both English[68] and Vietnamese[69] that used never before heard audio recordings of testimony taken at The Pentagon during the 1969–1970 Peers Inquiry.

On April 26, 2010, the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) broadcast a documentary as part of its The American Experience series entitled The American Experience: My Lai.[52]

On December 10, 2010, Italian producer Gianni Paolucci released a movie entitled My Lai Four[70], directed by Paolo Bertola, starring American actor Beau Ballinger as Calley and adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Seymour Hersh.[71]

References Edit

  1. At the time of the original revelations of the massacre, Mỹ Lai was pronounced like the English words "my lay".{{#invoke:Namespace detect|main}}[this pronunciation is not included] Later, the pronunciation "me lie" became commonly used.
  2. "Murder in the name of war—My Lai". BBC. July 20, 1998.
  3. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Summary report from the report of General Peers.
  5. Department of the Army. Report of the Department of the Army Review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident (The Peers Report), Volumes I-III (1970).
  6. My Lai was one of four hamlets associated with the village of "Son My". Americal Division Veterans Association.
  7. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  8. {{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}
  9. "Report of the Department of Army review of the preliminary investigations into the Mỹ Lai incident. Volume III, Exhibits, Book 6—Photographs, 14 March 1970". From the Library of Congress, Military Legal Resources.[1]
  10. "My Lai", Original broadcast PBS American Experience, 9 pm, April 26, 2010 Time Index 00:35' into the first hour (no commercials)
  11. "My Lai: A Question of Orders". Jan. 25, 1971. Time magazine.
  12. Summary of Peers Report. Significantly, he gave no instructions about segregating and safeguarding non-combatants. My Lai: An American Tragedy. William George Eckhardt 2000.
  13. "Peers Report: The Omissions and Commissions Of Cpt. Ernest L. Medina", law.umkc.edu.
  14. Smith, Karen D., "American soldiers testify in My Lai court martial", Amarillo Globe-News, Dec. 6, 2000.
  15. Walzer, Michael, Just and Unjust Wars, (New York: Basic Books Publishing) p. 310.
  16. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }} [dead link]
  17. 17.0 17.1 Eckhardt, William George, "Lawyering for Uncle Sam When He draws His Sword", law.umkc.edu.
  18. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=news }}
  19. Thompson's own testimony before a conference at the University of Tulane in 1994 [2] and from the Peers Report summary.
  20. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  21. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  22. {{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}
  23. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  24. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  25. "Heroes of My Lai honoured". March 7, 1998. BBC News.
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Further reading Edit

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|CitationClass=web }}</ref> Chapter 24, "Transgressions" (deals with the My Lai Massacre)

External links Edit

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