The My Lai Massacre

1484 Words 6 Pages
The My Lai Massacre took place on March 16, 1968, in a small village located in the Quang Ngai province named My Lai. The U.S. soldiers thought of My Lai as a stronghold of their Viet Cong enemies, and was a frequent target of U.S. and South Vietnamese bombing attacks. An American contingent of 100 soldiers, “Charlie Company”, led by Lieutenant William L. Calley, had received poor intelligence and were told that they would encounter many Viet Cong. After the murder of 504 innocent civilians, the village was found out to be filled with mostly good, and peaceful people. By noon that day “My Lai was no more”. The vague justification for the fatal attack on My lai was representative of all the U.S. failings in the Vietnam War.
At 7:22 A.M. On
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The official army report of the attack showed that the U.S. had a great victory, with 128 enemy dead, and only one of their own deceased. The U.S soldiers wanted to show that they did a great job of taking Viet Cong by listing the discrepancy of their men lost, to the number of Vietnamese killed. Somehow, high-ranking U.S. Army officers managed to cover up the events of that day. U.S. helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson filed a complaint that described many war crimes involving murders of innocent village people. One of Thompson's crew members said that, "Thompson was so pissed he wanted to turn in his wings." An order issued by Major Charles C. Calhoun to Captain Ernest Medina asking them to return to My Lai to do a body count was revoked by Major General Samuel Koster. He asked Captain Medina how many civilians had been killed. Medina answered "Twenty to twenty-eight," which was far from the truth. News of the attack was being released and broadcasted quickly. The cover up of the massacre lasted for over a year. Americans were disgusted. Some did not believe what happened. It justified that the U.S. army had failed at what they were trying to do in Vietnam, and tried desperately to cover it up. Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense under Lyndon Johnson was replaced before he could release a report showing what had happened in the war. Finally, in March 1969, a year after the massacre, a young GI named …show more content…
Seymour Hersh, an investigative journalist, deeply investigated Calley. He was picked up by over 30 newspapers, which revealed the extent of the U.S. Army’s charges against 1st Lt. William L. Calley at My Lai. Hersh wrote: “The Army says he deliberately murdered at least 109 Vietnamese civilians during a search-and-destroy mission in March 1968, in a Viet Cong stronghold known as ‘Pinkville’. On November 12, 1969, nearly two years after the massacre, he broke the story of what had happened at My Lai. Two days after the publication of the first My Lai dispatch, an antiwar march in Washington drew over 500,000 people. Many Americans were furious at the U.S. government, and their attempts to cover up the massacre. For four long months the Peers Panel, a group of investigators, interviewed 398 people who witnessed the massacre, ranging from high-ranking generals like Samuel Koster, to GI’s of Charlie Company. The Peers Report headed by Lt. Gen. William R. Peer, consisted of over 20,000 pages, criticizing the actions of officers and enlisted men. It recommended dozens of men be tried for rape, murder, or participating in the cover up of the massacre. The outcome of the paper left a list of around 30 people that should be tried including General Samuel Koster, Colonel Oran Henderson, Captain Ernest Medina, and Lt.

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