My Lai Massacre Facts

My Lai Massacre Facts
The My Lai massacre is the name used in most Western countries for a civilian massacre carried out by United States Army forces in the Son My village of South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. My Lai was a hamlet of Son My, which is how the incident received that name. The American forces killed between 350 and 500 civilians during the massacre, which included women and children. Many of the women were raped before being killed. Although fourteen officers, including a brigade commander were court martialed, only Lieutenant William Calley served any time. Calley was originally sentenced to serve life in prison after he was convicted of murder on March 29, 1971. The American public was largely sympathetic to Calley, who they saw as a scapegoat and believed he was following the orders of his captain, Ernest Medina, who had been previously acquitted on similar charges. Due to public pressure, President Richard Nixon moved Calley from the tough Leavenworth military prison to house arrest and after his sentence was reduced to twelve years, he only serve three and a half years. Antiwar protesters felt validated in their beliefs after the My Lai Massacre was made public, while war supporters felt that politicians and the military high-command had betrayed the rank and file soldiers, enlisted men and lower officers, who they believed were only following orders.
Interesting My Lai Massacre Facts:
The Son My area was often referred to as "Pinkville" by the Americans because it had a high number of Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas and a majority of the population was seen as sympathetic to them.
The American forces that took part in the massacre were from Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, and 11th Brigade, 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division.
It was believed that the 48th Local Force Battalion of the VC was using the village as a base for their operations in the area.
Before the Americans went into the village, Captain Medina told his officers that all the regular civilians would be at the market by the time they got there and anyone still in the village was therefore VC.
After rounding up and killing most of the villagers, the Americans killed the livestock and poisoned the wells.
The Americans encountered very little resistance during the operation.
No VC weapons caches were found.
Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Junior was a helicopter pilot during the My Lai Massacre. He and his crew rescued some Vietnamese civilians and later testified at the court martials.
Many of the surviving photographs of the My Lai Massacre were taken by United State Army photographer Ronald Haeberle. He later admitted that he destroyed many photos that showed Americans in the act of killing civilians.
The My Lai massacre later inspired scenes from later fictional depictions of Vietnam, such as the film Platoon and the television show Tour of Duty.


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