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imperialism & war

Falluja = My Lai Massacre revisited

History repeats itself.

Don't let this story be buried.

Bring the criminals to justice. NOW!
My Lai Massacre
On March 16, 1968 the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the village of My Lai. "This is what you've been waiting for -- search and destroy -- and you've got it," said their superior officers. A short time later the killing began. When news of the atrocities surfaced, it sent shockwaves through the US political establishment, the military's chain of command, and an already divided American public.

My Lai lay in the South Vietnamese district of Son My, a heavily mined area of Vietcong entrenchment. Numerous members of Charlie Company had been maimed or killed in the area during the preceding weeks. The agitated troops, under the command of Lt. William Calley, entered the village poised for engagement with the elusive Vietcong.

As the "search and destroy" mission unfolded it soon degenerated into the massacre of over 300 apparently unarmed civilians including women, children, and the elderly. Calley ordered his men to enter the village firing, though there had been no report of opposing fire. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted, praying women and children were shot in the back of the head, and at least one girl was raped, and then killed. For his part, Calley was said to have rounded up a group of the villagers, ordered them into a ditch, and mowed them down in a fury of machine gun fire.

Word of the massacre did not reach the American public until November of 1969, when journalist Seymour Hersh published a story detailing his conversations with ex-GI and Vietnam veteran, Ron Ridenhour. Ridenhour learned of the events at My Lai from members of Charlie Company who had been there. Before speaking with Hersh, he had appealed to Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon to investigate the matter. The military investigation resulted in Calley's being charged with murder in September 1969 -- a full two months before the Hersh story hit the streets.

As the gruesome details of the massacre reached the American public serious questions arose concerning the conduct of American soldiers in Vietnam. A military commission investigating the My Lai massacre found widespread failures of leadership, discipline, and morale among the Army's fighting units. As the war progressed, many "career" soldiers had either been rotated out or retired. Many more had died. In their place were scores of draftees whose fitness for leadership in the field of battle was questionable at best. Military officials blamed inequities in the draft policy for the often slim talent pool from which they were forced to choose leaders. Many maintained that if the educated middle class ("the Harvards," as they were called) had joined in the fight, a man of Lt. William Calley's emotional and intellectual stature would never have been issuing orders.

Calley, an unemployed college dropout, had managed to graduate from Officer's Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1967. At his trial, Calley testified that he was ordered by Captain Ernest Medina to kill everyone in the village of My Lai. Still, there was only enough photographic and recorded evidence to convict Calley, alone, of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1974, following many appeals. After being issued a dishonorable discharge, Calley entered the insurance business.

homepage: homepage: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/trenches/mylai.html

Learn from history 15.Apr.2004 13:18

Nadia

Thank you for the above. This is what is needed to make people who chose not to see what is happening in Faluja to rethink if they are honest. Now they just brush it off as Al Jazera biased reporting and that all are terrorists - very simular to what happend in Vietnam.

Thanks and contiue the good work - Peace from an Iraqi woman /Nadia
 http://www.occupationwatch.org
 http://www.4iraqis.net/

I'm not sure the comparison is proper 15.Apr.2004 15:26

James

I don't know what the fuck we're doing in Fallujah. But I don't think the comparison to Mi Lai is proper. From what I've read, the U.S. troops in Fallujah have shown a callous indifference to civilian human life. This is different from Mi Lai, where the U.S. troops showed a callous hostility to civilian human life.

And I think it's an important difference.

Also, it's worth pointing out that for every William Calley in the U.S. Army, there's probably also a Hugh Thompson. (Who trained the guns of his American helicopter on the American troops committing the massacre).

Then again, at the time Mi Lai was considered a case of "inevitable civilian casualties." So who really knows.

mi lai 18.Oct.2004 05:31

jane

who was the humanitarian president that pardoned calley? the baby killer.

Mi lai 08.Nov.2004 21:24

cisco cole

The president in question was Nixon. Noone is really sure why he freed calley. There is a possibility that Calley could in fact blow the whistle on higher ups.
The comparisson of Mi Lai and Fallujah is eroneous. There is no credible evidence of a civilian massacre of Iraqi's. A forse of Iraqi national military has been sent in with US military. There is little to no possibility of a civilian massacre happening when the eyes of the world is upon the situation. The comparison is totally unjustified whether you are for or against this war. Mi Lai will forever live as a dark, disgiusting black eye in US history. But one must be careful in comparisons when the evidence is not present.

oh my.. 21.Mar.2006 12:17

Keisha Pruitt

I dont think that Lt. Calley had planned on going there and killing all those innocent people. I think that when he got there he realized that there where no North Vietnamese there in hiding. Because if you know your history you know that when he went there, he was looking for the North Vietnamese, because they were supposed to be there and when they weren't there he got mad and I think that was enough for him so he just went crazy. Thanks for reading. - Keisha