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Massacre at My Lai March 16, 1968


Title: Massacre at My Lai March 16, 1968 Author: USD497 Last modified by: District User Created Date: 4/29/2002 1:38:21 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Massacre at My Lai March 16, 1968

Massacre at My LaiMarch 16, 1968
What happened at My Lai?
  • On March 16, 1968, the men of Charlie Company,
    11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the
    village of My Lai.
  • This is what youve been waiting for--search and
    destroy-- and youve got it, said their superior
  • A short time later the killing began.
  • Vietnam Online, PBS

Where is My Lai?
  • My Lai is in the South Vietnamese district of Son
    My, a heavily mined area of Vietcong
  • Many members of Charlie Company had been maimed
    of killed in the area during the preceding weeks.
  • This time Charlie Company, led by Lt. William
    Calley, was willing and ready for an engagement
    with the Vietcong.
  • Vietnam Online, PBS

Timeline of the Events at My Lai
  • First arrivals were Lieutenant Calley and the
    First Platoon.
  • The mission of the First Platoon was to secure
    the landing area for the helicopters.
  • This was shortly after eight in the morning.
  • BBC News

Timeline of the events of My Lai, continued
  • After securing the landing area, the First
    Platoon entered the village of My Lai.
  • Calley ordered his men to enter the village
    firing, though there had been no report of
    opposition fire.
  • Soon, the search and destroy mission had
    degenerated into the massacre of over 300
    apparently unarmed civilians, which included
    women, children, and the elderly- all in the
    course of three hours.
  • Vietnam Online, PBS

Atrocities at My Lai
  • Families who had huddled together for safety in
    huts or bunkers were shown no mercy.
  • Those who surrendered with their hands held high
    were murdered.
  • Women were gang raped.
  • Vietnamese who had bowed to greet the Americans
    were beaten with fists and tortured.
  • Some victims were mutilated with the signature C
    Company carved into the chest.
  • BBC News

Atrocities at My Lai
  • Calley, for his part, was said to have rounded up
    a group of the villagers, ordered them into a
    ditch, and mowed them down in a blast of machine
    gun fire.
  • Vietnam Online, PBS

Victims at My Lai
Victims at My Lai
The Burning of My Lai
One wounded member of Charlie Company
  • Only one member of Charlie Company was wounded.
  • A GI shot himself in the foot while clearing his
  • BBC News

Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson
  • Pilot of an army helicopter that arrived at My
    Lai around 9am.
  • Witnessed the senseless killings and reported
    them to headquarters.
  • Evacuated 9 civilians, including 5 children, by
    putting himself between the Vietnamese and
    Calleys men
  • Told his crew to open up on the Americans if
    they fired on the civilians
  • Returned a second time to save a baby clinging to
    its dead mother
  • Famous Trials

Who was Charlie Company?
  • Charlie Company came to Vietnam in December,
  • Charlie Companys commanding officer was Ernest
    Medina, a thirty-three year old from New Mexico,
    who was popular with his soldiers
  • One of the platoon leaders was William Calley, a
    twenty-four year old, who was described as a kid
    trying to play war.
  • By March 1968, many in the company had given in
    to an easy pattern of violence.
  • Famous trials

Why Charlie Company? continued
  • On March 14, a small squad from C Company ran
    into a booby trap, killing a popular sergeant,
    blinding one GI, and wounding several others.
  • At the funeral service the following evening,
    Medina gave a pep talk about the next mornings
  • He told his soldiers that the women and children
    would be out of the hamlet, and that all would be
    left would be the enemy. They would destroy the
    enemy completely.
  • Famous Trials

The Cover-Up
  • It took more than a year for the shocking story
    of the My Lai massacre to reach the news stands.
  • Medina realized that the news of the event could
    cause trouble. For instance, when he was
    questioned by a superior, he maintained that
    between 20 and 28 civilians had been killed by
    gun-ship and artillery fire.
  • Medinas account of the events was echoed in a
    report submitted in a month later by the
    commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade, Colonel
    Oran K Henderson. 20 civilians had been killed
    inadvertently, he claimed.
  • However, rumors began to be spread of the true
    events that had occurred at My Lai.
  • BBC News

How the story actually broke
  • After hearing the soldiers boast about what had
    taken place at My Lai, Ronald Ridenhour, who was
    a soldier with the 11th Brigade, began to check
    out the story by confirming the soldiers stories
    with other soldiers and official documents.
  • In March 1969, Ridenhour composed a letter
    detailing what he had heard about My Lai and sent
    the letter to President Nixon, the Pentagon, the
    State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and
    members of Congress.
  • Famous Trials

The Investigation
  • General Westmoreland, one recipient of the
    letter, could not believe that his men would
    engage in mass murder and ordered an immediate
  • Over the next few months, evidence was amassed,
    and it was evident that war crimes had been
  • On September 5, 1969, Calley was charged with
    109 counts of murder, and his Court Martial began
    on November 12th.

Charges and a Pardon
  • On March 29, 1970, Lieutenant Calley was found
    guilty of the murder of at least 33 oriental
    human beings, occupants of the village of My Lai,
    whose names and sexes are unknown, by means of
    shooting them with a rifle.
  • Calley was dishonorably discharged and sentenced
    to life in Leavenworth Prison.
  • The sentence was reduced to 20 years by President
  • In 1974, after serving just three years, Calley
    was pardoned by Nixon.
  • Today, Calley, who was married in 1974, works in
    the jewelry store of his father-in-law in
    Columbus, Georgia.

Lasting Effects of My Lai
  • Two weeks after the Calley verdict, a public
    opinion poll reported for the first time that a
    majority of Americans opposed the war in Vietnam.
  • The incident in My Lai also caused the military
    to re-evaluate its training and handling of
  • Still present in the military mind. Commanders
    sent troops in Desert Storm into battle with the
    words , No My Lais--you hear?

  • An Account of the My Lai Courts-Marital by Doug
  • http//
  • BBC News My Lai the cover-up
  • http//
  • Vietnam Online- The American Experience
  • http//
  • When War Becomes A Crime The Case of My Lai
  • BBC News Murder in the name of war- My Lai
  • http//