Soldiers are trained to always follow orders, and to never question orders. But that belief is somewhat illogical. Soldier's are to obey any lawful order given. But the training involved, the often chaotic nature of battle, and the need to follow authority to maintain survival can lead to a very blurred vision of what is right or wrong. One's animalistic instincts may take over. Sometimes there are such situations when you've stepped over the line. Such as the horrendous act that took place on March 16, 1968 in the village of Son My.
The Quang Ngai Province, more than any other province in South Viet Nam, was suspected by the United States military officials as being a Viet Cong stronghold. Army intelligence reported that the Viet Cong were living with local villagers to conceal their identities. They were farmers during the daytime and guerrilla soldiers at night. The Quang Ngai Province was the target of the first major United States combat operation of the war. The province was subject to frequent bombing missions and artillery attacks. By the end of 1967, most of the dwellings in the province had been destroyed and nearly 140,000 civilians were left homeless.
Charlie Company came to Viet Nam in December, 1967. It was relocated to Quang Ngai Province in January, 1968, as one of the three companies in Task Force Barker. Its mission was to put pressure upon the Viet Cong in an area of the province known as Pinkville (the province was often colored in pink on military maps). Charlie Company's commanding officer was Ernest Mendina. One of his platoon leaders was twenty-four year old William Calley, who would later be found guilty of premeditated murder.
Because of the Viet Cong's abil...
... middle of paper ...
...tated murder of at least thirty-three Vietnamese . He was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to life. The sentence was reduced to twenty years by President Nixon, and after Calley had served three years of house arrest, President Nixon pardoned him.
A situation like this really sheds some light on the animalistic mentality of war. William Calley was a man void of any real sense of reality or morality. During the course of the Vietnam war, watching fellow comrades dying left and right, twisted his mind into a type of killing machine. What he did was horrendous and he should never had been pardoned from his sentence. But perhaps the real problem is war itself. Under such circumstances, anyone could turn into the monster he became. Forgive it, understand it, or loathe it, My Lai will always serve as a reminder of American's tragic involvement in Vietnam.
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