My Lai Massacre 2 Essay, Research Paper
The My Lai Massacre
On March 16, 1968 a terrible massacre occurred at My Lai, called The My Lai Massacre. The following massacre should have never happened and the event s that followed the massacre are typical of any American wrongdoing. That s why it wasn t in my US History book. They covered it up and the people involved in the massacre received no punishment except for one soldier.
My US History book: The Story of America Volume 2 doesn t even touch on this dark moment in US history. The closest that they come to my topic is the eight pages about the Vietnam War. Within these pages they talked about Nixon being elected to presidency in 1968. He received 43 percent of the popular vote only 1 less than Humphrey. He sought to please the middle class income voters and people who were neither radicals nor reactionaries. The middle class was worried about the high taxes and rising prices. So Nixon concentrated on ending the inflation, he ordered a wage-and-price freeze for 90 days. In this 90 days he set up a special committee to supervise wages and prices. Then announced guidelines to place maximum limits on future increases in wages and prices. This did slow down inflation. Another key point was Vietnamization that was the idea to remove American troops and put South Vietnamese troops in instead. At the start of the Vietnam War there were over 540,000 American troops in Vietnam and by spring 1970 there were under 430,000 American troops there. Nixon planed to pull out another 150,000 men within a year. But then Nixon became a hypocrite by sending American troops to Cambodia to destroy bases being used by North Vietnamese (Volume 2 The Story of America 535-538). That is the summery of what else occurred during the time period of the My Lai Massacre.
The My Lai Massacre occurred at 7:30 on the morning on March 16, 1968 (Heroes & Massacres). Captain Ernest Medina ordered the Charlie Company, Task Force Baker, Eleventh Brigade of the Americal Division, to search and destroy My Lai. My Lai is a small village located on the coast of Vietnam, near the South China Sea. Lt. William Calley led 150 fully armed and ready soldiers into Son My villiage to destory the hamlet called My Lia. But it wasn t clear as what to do with any civilians they encountered
(The My Lai Massacre).
The Charlie Company soldiers were brought by helicopter (Gettleman). The soldiers entered My Lai expecting fierce combat with a Viet Cong battalion believed to be at My Lai. For the past three months the American unit had been in no major battles but had suffered a lot of casualties from snipers, mines, and booby traps. The soldiers were ready to prove themselves, ready to exact revenge on the enemy (The My Lai Massacre).
The Charlie Company soldiers met no Viet Cong soldiers though. Then William Calley ordered the slaughter of the civilians of My Lai. This should have never happened just because you don t find the enemy doesn t give you the right to kill the villagers. Also the inhumane way they killed these villagers which were mostly elderly woman and men and children. The following is a few of the ways they killed the villagers. According to eyewitness reports offered after the event, several old men were bayoneted and 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. (Vietnam Online) Also when Calley spotted a baby crawling away from a ditch, he grabbed her, threw her back into the ditch, and opened fire (The My Lai Massacre). In some of the ditches the bodies laid five feet deep. One soldier would later say, You didn t have to look for people to kill, they were just there. I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I just lost all sense of direction.(The My Lia Massacre) Even after they killed them they even went a step further by mutilating their bodies by carving C Company into their chests (Patrick).
In the end the body count was no less than 300 villagers. It would have been more if it weren t for Hugh Thompson who flew over in his helicopter and reported the massacre to his officer. The officer then told the Charlie Company to abort their mission. Many view Thompson as a hero because he rescued many villagers from the massacre with his helicopter.
After all this happened it took more than a year for the facts of this massacre to come out. There were military investigations but they didn t find any wrongdoing. To make sure that it would be nearly impossible to know the truth U.S. Army files were deliberately misfiled or destroyed (Heroes & Massacres).
After the military found nothing wrong Ron Ridenhour, a veteran of Vietnam, wrote letters to congressmen exposing that something dark and bloody had taken place. This made it public and the U.S. Army had to deal with it. Some soldiers even omitted to murdering the villagers but received no charge. The only charge ever given was to William Calley the officer of the Charlie Company, he was charged with murder of 22 civilians. After charged with murder he was to have life in prison, but after 3 days in prison he was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia and held under house arrest. In house arrest he led a normal life except he couldn t leave but people could visit him which is quite a bit different then having to spend the rest of his life in prison. (The My Lai Massacre).
The My Lai massacre shouldn t have ever occurred but unfortunately 100 s of massacres just like this one have happened just never been reported or put out for the public to know. The U.S. Army gave no punishment to the soldiers and tried to hide it as long as they could.
My history book doesn t talk or even speak about this event because they want us to think of the U.S. as a good nation that would never do such a horrible thing. History books are the black curtains that cover the American youth s eyes. They have control over what they want us to know and learn. If it wasn t for this assignment I would have never realized about this event that should have been in my history book.