The My Lai Massacre Essay

The My Lai Massacre Essay

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The My Lai Massacre was the mass murder conducted by a unit of the U.S. army on March 16, 1968 of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens, all of whom were women, children, and elderly. Initially, the massacre was considered a military victory, claiming that 128 Viet Cong and only twenty-two citizens were killed. General William C. Westmoreland, MACV commander, congratulated the unit on an "outstanding job." Investigations began with 11th Light Infantry Brigade's commanding officer, Colonel Henderson, under orders of Americal Division's executive officer, Brigadier General George H. Young. Henderson interviewed several soldiers involved in the My Lai operation, then issuing a report late April claiming that twenty some odd citizens were killed. Six months after Henderson's report, Tom Glen a twenty-one year old soldier wrote General Creighton Abrams, the new commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam a letter. It, detailed and echoed complaints received from other soldiers, accusing entire units of brutality against Vietnam civilians. Collin Powell, then a thirty-one year old Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference the events that occurred in My Lai. In his report, Powell wrote: "in direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and Vietnamese people are excellent." Powell's handling of the assignment was later characterized as "whitewashing" the atrocities that occurred in My Lai.
The Carnage that occurred in My Lai may have gone unknown to history if not for, Ron Ridenhour, a former member of Charlie Company and helicopter gunner, didn't independently from Tom Glen send out his our letters. Ridenhour had heard of the massacre that happened at My Lai fr...


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... suspected that there were NFL soldiers in the village, hiding in the home's of their parents and wives. Second Lieutenant, William Calley, went in shooting at a suspected "enemy position."
After the first citizens were killed the indiscriminate fire, soldiers started shooting at anything that moved, humans and animals alike, with firearms, grenades and bayonets. The Scale of the massacre only spiraled as it progressed, as BBC described it. Dozens of people were herded into irrigation ditches, only to be brutally murdered with automatic firearms. As the platoons ransacked their path through My Lai, Vietnamese were sexually abused, tortured, while some were even found mutilated with the letter C on their chest. During the next two days they continued to burn buildings, kill Vietnamese civilians, and most importantly not complain to their superiors.


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