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Encyclopedia > My Lai massacre

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My Lai Massacre
My Lai Massacre
Location Sơn Mỹ village, Sơn Tịnh district of South Vietnam
Date March 16, 1968
Attack type Massacre
Deaths 347 admitted by U.S Army (not including My Khe killings), others estimate more than 400 killed and injuries are unknown, Vietnamese government lists 504 killed in total from both My Lai and My Khe
Perpetrator(s) Task force from the United States Army Americal Division
Lt. William Calley (convicted)

The My Lai Massacre (pronunciation , approximately [mi.˧˩˥'lɐːj˧˧]) (Vietnamese: thảm sát Mỹ Lai) was the mass murder of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), mostly civilians and majority of them women and children, conducted by U.S. Army forces on March 16, 1968. Before being killed some of the victims were raped and sexually molested, beaten, tortured, or maimed. Some of the dead bodies were also mutilated.[1] The massacre took place in the hamlets of Mỹ Lai and My Khe of Sơn Mỹ village during the Vietnam War.[2][3] Image File history File links My_Lai_massacre. ... SÆ¡n Tịnh is a district of Quảng Ngãi Province, South Vietnam, situated to the north-east of the town of Quảng Ngãi. ... Anthem Thanh niên Hành Khúc (Call to the Citizens) Capital Saigon Language(s) Vietnamese Government Republic Last President¹ Duong Van Minh Last Prime minister Vu Van Mau Historical era Cold War  - Regime change June 14, 1955  - Dissolution April 30, 1975 Area  - 1973 173,809 km² 67,108... is the 75th day of the year (76th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Look up massacre in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the armed forces of the United States. ... Americal Division Shoulder Patch The Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. ... William Laws Calley, Jr. ... Image File history File links My_Lai. ... Mass murder (massacre) is the act of murdering a large number of people, typically at the same time, or over a relatively short period of time. ... National motto: ??? Official language Vietnamese Capital Saigon Last President Duong Van Minh Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau Area  - Total  - % water 173,809km² N/A population  - Total  - Density 19,370,000 (1973 est. ... In times of armed conflict a civilian is any person who is not a combatant. ... The Army is the branch of the United States armed forces which has primary responsibility for land-based military operations. ... is the 75th day of the year (76th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... My Lai was a small hamlet belonging to the village of Song My in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam, where US troops conducted a massacre of non-combatants in 1968. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000...


The incident prompted widespread outrage around the world and reduced U.S. support at home for the Vietnam War. The massacre is also known as the Sơn Mỹ Massacre (Vietnamese: thảm sát Sơn Mỹ) or sometimes as the Song My Massacre.[4] The U.S. military codeword for the hamlet was Pinkville, another name by which the massacre is known.[5]

Contents

The incident

He fired at [the baby] with a .45. He missed. We all laughed. He got up three or four feet closer and missed again. We laughed. Then he got up right on top and plugged him.[6][7]
Vietnamese women and children in My Lai shortly before U.S. soldiers killed them, March 16, 1968. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
Vietnamese women and children in My Lai shortly before U.S. soldiers killed them, March 16, 1968.[8] Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle

Image File history File links Size of this preview: 428 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1024 × 1434 pixel, file size: 378 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 428 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1024 × 1434 pixel, file size: 378 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... One of Haeberles My Lai photos: Ronald L. Haeberle was a U.S. Army photographer who released pictures of the My Lai massacre to a horrified American and foreign public when it was published by LIFE magazine in late 1969. ...

Background

Charlie Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (the Americal Division), arrived in South Vietnam in December 1967. Their first month in Vietnam passed without any direct enemy contact. Nevertheless, by mid-March the company had suffered 28 incidents including injuries and five deaths. Most of the deaths were from mines and booby-traps. Americal Division Shoulder Patch The Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. ...


During the Tet Offensive of January 1968, attacks were carried out in Quảng Ngãi by the 48th Battalion of the NLF (National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, commonly referred to as the Viet Cong). U.S. military intelligence postulated that the 48th NLF Battalion, having retreated, was taking refuge in the village of Sơn Mỹ, in Quang Ngai Province. A number of specific hamlets within that village — designated My Lai 1, 2, 3, and 4 — were suspected of harboring the 48th. Combatants Republic of Vietnam, United States, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Australia National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, Democratic Republic of Vietnam Commanders William C. Westmoreland Võ Nguyên Giáp Strength 1. ... Quảng Ngãi is a city in central Vietnam. ... Viet Cong redirects here. ... Quang Ngai (Vietnamese Quảng Ngãi) is a province in south-central Vietnam, on the coast of South China Sea. ...


U.S. forces planned a major offensive against those hamlets. Colonel Oran K. Henderson urged his officers to "go in there aggressively, close with the enemy and wipe them out for good."[9] Lieutenant-Colonel Frank A. Barker ordered the 1st Battalion commanders to burn the houses, kill the livestock, destroy foodstuffs, and perhaps to close the wells.[10]


On the eve of the attack, at the Charlie Company briefing, Captain Ernest Medina informed his men that nearly all the civilian residents of the hamlets in Sơn Mỹ village would have left for the market by 07:00 and that any who remained would be NLF or NLF sympathizers.[11] He was also asked whether the order included the killing of women and children; those present at the briefing later gave different accounts of Medina's response. Some of the company soldiers, including platoon leaders, later testified that the orders as they understood them were to kill all guerrilla and North Vietnamese combatants and "suspects" (including women and children, as well as all animals), to burn the village, and pollute the wells.[12] For other uses, see Captain (disambiguation). ... Ernest Lou Medina was a captain in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. ... Guerrilla redirects here. ... Anthem Tiến Quân Ca (Army March) Location of North Vietnam Capital Hanoi Language(s) Vietnamese Government Socialist republic First president Ho Chi Minh Historical era Cold War  - Independence proclaimed (from Japan) September 2, 1945  - Recognized 1954  - Disestablished July 2, 1976 Area 157,880 km² Population  -  est. ...


Charlie Company was to enter the hamlet, spearheaded by its 1st Platoon. The other two companies that made up the task force were to cordon off the village.


Killings

Dead man and child. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
Dead man and child. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
Some of the people were trying to get up and run. They couldn't and fell down. This one woman, I remember, she stood up and tried to make it — tried to run — with a small child in her arms. But she didn't make it.

—Army photographer Ronald Haeberle[13] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 556 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 890 pixel, file size: 437 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 556 pixelsFull resolution (1280 × 890 pixel, file size: 437 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... One of Haeberles My Lai photos: Ronald L. Haeberle was a U.S. Army photographer who released pictures of the My Lai massacre to a horrified American and foreign public when it was published by LIFE magazine in late 1969. ...

Charlie Company landed following a short artillery and helicopter gunship preparation. The soldiers found no enemy fighters in the village on the morning of March 16. Many suspected there were NLF troops in the village, hiding underground in the homes of their elderly parents or their wives. The U.S. soldiers, one platoon of which was led by Second Lieutenant William Calley, went in shooting at "suspected enemy position". After the first civilians were killed and wounded by the indiscriminate fire, the soldiers soon began attacking anything that moved, humans and animals alike, with firearms, grenades and bayonets. The scale of the massacre only spiraled as it progressed, the brutality increasing with each killing. BBC News described the scene: William Laws Calley, Jr. ... BBC News is the department within the BBC responsible for the corporations news-gathering and production of news programmes on BBC television, radio and online. ...

Soldiers went berserk, gunning down unarmed men, women, children and babies. Families which huddled together for safety in huts or bunkers were shown no mercy. Those who emerged with hands held high were murdered. ... Elsewhere in the village, other atrocities were in progress. Women were gang raped; Vietnamese who had bowed to greet the Americans were beaten with fists and tortured, clubbed with rifle butts and stabbed with bayonets. Some victims were mutilated with the signature "C Company" carved into the chest. By late morning word had got back to higher authorities and a cease-fire was ordered. My Lai was in a state of carnage. Bodies were strewn through the village.[1]
More victims at My Lai. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
More victims at My Lai. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle

Dozens of people were herded into an irrigation ditch and other locations and killed with automatic weapons.[14] A large group of about 70 to 80 villagers, rounded up by the 1st Platoon in the center of the village, were killed personally by Calley and by soldiers he had ordered to fire. Calley also shot two other large groups of civilians with a weapon taken from a soldier who had refused to do any further killing. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 402 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1024 × 1527 pixel, file size: 486 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 402 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (1024 × 1527 pixel, file size: 486 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...


Members of the 2nd Platoon killed at least 60-70 Vietnamese men, women, and children, as they swept through the northern half of My Lai 4 and through Binh Tay, a small subhamlet about 400 meters north of My Lai 4.[2]


After the initial "sweeps" by the 1st and the 2nd Platoons, the 3rd Platoon was dispatched to deal with any "remaining resistance". They immediately began killing every still-living human and animal they could find, including shooting the Vietnamese who emerged from their hiding places, and finishing off the wounded found moaning in the heaps of bodies. The 3rd Platoon also rounded up and killed a group of seven to 12 women and children.[2]


Since Charlie Company had encountered no enemy opposition, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, was moved into its landing zone between and attacked the subhamlet of My Khe 4, killing as many as 90 people. U.S. forces lost one man killed and seven wounded from mines and booby traps.[2] During the next two days, both battalions were involved in additional burning and destruction of dwellings, and in the mistreatment of Vietnamese detainees. Most of the soldiers had not participated in the crimes, but neither protested nor complained to their superiors.[15]

"I would say that most people in our company didn't consider the Vietnamese human".[16]

Helicopter intervention

It looks like a bloodbath down there! What the hell is going on?

—Unidentified helicopter pilot over My Lai[17]

Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, Jr., a 24-year-old helicopter pilot from an aero-scout team, witnessed a large number of dead and dying civilians as he began flying over the village - all of them infants, children, women and old men, with no signs of draft-age men or weapons anywhere. Thompson and his crew witnessed an unarmed passive woman kicked and shot at point-blank range by Captain Medina (Medina later claimed that he thought she had a grenade).[18] The crew made several attempts to radio for help for the wounded. They landed their helicopter by a ditch, which they noted was full of bodies and in which there was movement. Thompson asked a Sergeant he encountered there (David Mitchell of the 1st Platoon) if he could help get the people out of the ditch, and the Sergeant replied that he would "help them out of their misery". Thompson, shocked and confused, had then a conversation with Lieutenant Calley, commanding officer of the 1st Platoon, who claimed to be "just following orders". As the helicopter took off, they saw Mitchell firing into the ditch. For Warrant Officers in the United States military, see Warrant Officer (United States). ... Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Hugh C. Thompson, Jr. ... In external ballistics, point-blank range is the distance between a firearm and a target of a given size such that the bullet in flight is expected to strike the target at the point of aim without adjusting the elevation of the firearm (see also gun). ...


Thompson then saw a group of civilians (again consisting of children, women and old men) at a bunker being approached by ground personnel. Thompson landed and told his crew that if the U.S. soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire at these soldiers. Thompson later testified that he spoke with a Lieutenant (identified as Stephen Brooks of the 2nd Platoon) and told him there were women and children in the bunker, and asked if the Lieutenant would help get them out. According to Thompson, "he [the Lieutenant] said the only way to get them out was with a hand grenade". Thompson testified that he then told Brooks to "just hold your men right where they are, and I'll get the kids out". He found 12 to 16 people in the bunker, coaxed them out and led them to the helicopter, standing with them while they were flown out in two groups.


Returning to My Lai, Thompson and other air crew members noticed several large groups of bodies. Spotting some survivors in the ditch Thompson landed again and one of the crew members entered the ditch. The crew member returned with a bloodied but apparently unharmed child who was flown to safety. The child was thought to be a boy, but later investigation found that it was a 4-year-old girl. Thompson then reported what he had seen to his company commander, Major Watke, using terms such as "murder" and "needless and unnecessary killings". Thompson's reports were confirmed by other pilots and air crew.[19]


In 1998, three former U.S. servicemen who stopped their comrades from killing a number of villagers, significantly reducing casualties at My Lai, were awarded medals in Washington D.C.[20] The veterans also made contact with the survivors of My Lai. A medal is a small metal object, usually engraved with insignia, that is awarded to a person for athletic, military, scientific, academic or some other kind of achievement. ...


Aftermath

Dead bodies outside a burning dwelling. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
Dead bodies outside a burning dwelling. Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
I did not see anyone alive when we left the village.

—Private First Class Robert Maples[21] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 585 pixelsFull resolution (910 × 665 pixel, file size: 136 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 585 pixelsFull resolution (910 × 665 pixel, file size: 136 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...

Owing to the chaotic circumstances and the Army's decision not to undertake a definitive body count, the number of civilians killed at My Lai cannot be stated with certainty. Estimates vary from source to source, with 347 and 504 being the most commonly cited figures. The memorial at the site of the massacre lists 504 names, with ages ranging from one to 82 years. A later investigation by the U.S. Army arrived at a lower figure of 347 deaths, the official U.S. estimate.[22]


Cover-up and investigations

The first reports claimed that "128 Vietcong and 22 civilians" were killed in the village during a "fierce fire fight". General William C. Westmoreland, MACV commander, congratulated the unit on the "outstanding job".[citation needed] As related at the time by the Army's Stars and Stripes magazine, "U.S. infantrymen had killed 128 Communists in a bloody day-long battle." General William Westmoreland William Childs Westmoreland (born March 26, 1914, Spartanburg County, South Carolina) is a retired United States General who commanded US military operations in the Vietnam War from 1964_68 and served as US Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972. ... The U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, MACV, (mack vee), was the United States unified command structure for all of its military forces in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. ... Flag ratio: 10:19; nicknames: Stars and Stripes, Old Glory The flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars...


Initial investigations of the My Lai operation were undertaken by the 11th Light Infantry Brigade's commanding officer, Colonel Henderson, under orders from the Americal Division's executive officer, Brigadier General George H. Young. Henderson interviewed several soldiers involved in the incident, then issued a written report in late April claiming that some 22 civilians were inadvertently killed during the operation. The army at this time was still describing the events at My Lai as a military victory that had resulted in the deaths of 128 enemy combatants. A Brigadier General, or one-star general, is the lowest rank of general officer in the United States and some other countries, ranking just above Colonel and just below Major General. ...


Six months later, Tom Glen, a 21-year-old soldier of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, wrote a letter to General Creighton Abrams, the new overall commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, accusing the Americal Division (and other entire units of the U.S. military) of routine and pervasive brutality against Vietnamese civilians. The letter was detailed and its contents echoed complaints received from other soldiers. Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. ...


Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference My Lai (Glen had limited knowledge of the events there). In his report Powell wrote: "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Powell's handling of the assignment was later characterized by some observers as "whitewashing" the atrocities of My Lai.[23] In May 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, told CNN's Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored."[24] General Colin Luther Powell, United States Army (Ret. ... The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. ... The Cable News Network, commonly known as CNN, is a major cable television network founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. ... This article is about the television show host. ...


The carnage at My Lai might have gone unknown to history if not for another soldier, Ron Ridenhour, a former member of Charlie Company, who, independently of Glen, sent a letter detailing the events at My Lai to President Richard M. Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous members of Congress.[25] The copies of this letter were sent in March 1969, a full year after the event. Most recipients of Ridenhour's letter ignored it, with the notable exception of Congressman Morris Udall (D-Arizona). Ridenhour learned about the events at My Lai secondhand, by talking to members of Charlie Company while he was still enlisted. Ronald Ridenhour, a young GI who had served in the 11th Brigade, was an investigative journalist who played a central role in spurring the investigation of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. ... Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. ... This article is about the United States military building. ... The United States Department of State, often referred to as the State Department, is the Cabinet-level foreign affairs agency of the United States government, equivalent to foreign ministries in other countries. ... Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America symbol The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) is a group comprising the Chiefs of service of each major branch of the armed services in the United States armed forces. ... The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... Morris King Udall (June 15, 1922 - December 12, 1998), better known as Mo, was an American politician who served as a U.S. Representative from Arizona from 1961 to 1991. ...


Eventually, Calley was charged with several counts of premeditated murder in September 1969, and 25 other officers and enlisted men were later charged with related crimes. It was another two months before the American public learned about the massacre and trials.


Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, after extensive conversations with Calley, broke the My Lai story on 12 November 1969; on 20 November, Time, Life and Newsweek magazines all covered the story, and CBS televised an interview with Paul Meadlo. The Cleveland Plain Dealer published explicit photographs of dead villagers killed at My Lai. As is evident from comments made in a 1969 telephone conversation between United States National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, revealed recently[when?] by the National Security Archive, the photos of the war crime were too shocking for senior officials to stage an effective cover-up. Secretary of Defense Laird was heard to say, "There are so many kids just lying there; these pictures are authentic."[citation needed] Seymour Myron Sy Hersh (born April 8, 1937 Chicago) is an American Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author based in Washington, DC. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters. ... is the 316th day of the year (317th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1969 (number) 1969 (movie) 1969 (Stargate SG-1) episode. ... is the 324th day of the year (325th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... (Clockwise from upper left) Time magazine covers from May 7, 1945; July 25, 1969; December 31, 1999; September 14, 2001; and April 21, 2003. ... A cover of Life Magazine from 1911 Life has been the name of two notable magazines published in the United States. ... The Newsweek logo Newsweek is a weekly news magazine published in New York City and distributed throughout the United States and internationally. ... This article is about the broadcast network. ... Cleveland redirects here. ... The Plain Dealer is the major daily newspaper of Cleveland, Ohio. ... The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. ... Henry Alfred Kissinger (born Heinz Alfred Kissinger on May 27, 1923) is a German-born American politician, and 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. ... The United States Secretary of Defense is the head of the United States Department of Defense, concerned with the armed services and The Secretary is a member of the Presidents Cabinet. ... Melvin Robert Laird (born September 1, 1922) was a Republican congressman from Wisconsin who served as Richard Nixons Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973. ... The National Security Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and archival institution located within The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1985 by Thomas Blanton, it archives and publishes declassified U.S. government files concerning selected topics of American foreign policy. ...


In November 1969, General William R. Peers was appointed to conduct a thorough investigation into the My Lai incident and its subsequent cover-up. Peers' final report, published in March 1970, was highly critical of top officers for participation in a cover-up and the Charlie Company officers for their actions at My Lai 4.[26] According to Peers's findings: William R. Peers was a U.S. Army Officer. ...

[The 1st Battalion] members had killed at least 175-200 Vietnamese men, women, and children. The evidence indicates that only 3 or 4 were confirmed as Viet Cong although there were undoubtedly several unarmed VC (men, women, and children) among them and many more active supporters and sympathizers. One man from the company was reported as wounded from the accidental discharge of his weapon.[2]

However, critics of the Peers Commission pointed out that it sought to place the real blame on four officers who were already dead, foremost among them being the CO of TF Barker, LTC Frank Barker, who was killed in a mid air collision on June 13, 1968.


Courts martial

On 17 March 1970, the United States Army charged 14 officers, including Major General Samuel W. Koster, the Americal Division's commanding officer, with suppressing information related to the incident. Most of those charges were later dropped. Brigade commander Henderson was the only officer who stood trial on charges relating to the cover-up; he was acquitted on December 17, 1971.[27] is the 76th day of the year (77th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link shows full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The United States Army is the largest and oldest branch of the armed forces of the United States. ... Samuel W. Koster (29 December 1919—23 January 2006 was a United States Army officer and the highest-ranking officer charged and punished for his role in the My Lai massacre. ... The Americal Division of the United States Army was formed in May 1942 on the island of New Caledonia. ... December 17 is the 351st day of the year (352nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1971 Gregorian calendar, known as the year of cyclohexanol. ...


After a 10-month-long trial, in which he claimed that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Captain Medina, William Calley was convicted, on September 10, 1971, of premeditated murder for ordering the shootings. He was initially sentenced to life in prison. Two days later, however, President Nixon made the controversial decision to have Calley released from prison, pending appeal of his sentence. Calley's sentence was later adjusted, so that he would eventually serve four and one-half months in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, during which time he was allowed routine and unrestricted visits by his girlfriend.[28] William Laws Calley, Jr. ... is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the 1971 Gregorian calendar, known as the year of cyclohexanol. ... In 1827, Colonel Henry Leavenworth established a post on the bluffs overlooking the western bank of the Missouri River to protect the fur trade, safeguard commerce on the Santa Fe Trail and maintain the peace among the inhabitants. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ...


In a separate trial, Captain Medina denied giving the orders that led to the massacre, and was acquitted of all charges, effectively negating the prosecution's theory of "command responsibility", now referred to as the "Medina standard". Several months after his acquittal, however, Medina admitted that he had suppressed evidence and had lied to Colonel Henderson about the number of civilian deaths.[29]


Most of the enlisted men who were involved in the events at My Lai had already left military service, and were thus legally exempt from prosecution. In the end, of the 26 men initially charged, Calley's was the only conviction.


Some have argued that the outcome of the My Lai courts martial was a reversal of the laws of war that were set forth in the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals.[30] Those tribunals set a historic precedent, establishing the principle that no one may be excused from responsibility for war crimes because they were "following orders". Secretary of the Army Howard Callaway was quoted in the New York Times as stating that Calley's sentence was reduced because Calley honestly believed that what he did was a part of his orders — a rationale that stands in direct contradiction of the standards set at Nuremberg and Tokyo, where German and Japanese soldiers were executed for similar acts. The Nuremberg Trials is the general name for two sets of trials of Nazis involved in World War II and the Holocaust. ... Categories: Possible copyright violations ... Flag of the United States Secretary of the Army The United States Secretary of the Army has statutory responsibility for all matters relating to the United States Army: manpower, personnel, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapons systems and equipment acquisition, communications, and financial management. ... Howard Hollis Bo Callaway (born April 2, 1927) is a politician from the state of Georgia. ...


Survivors

In the spring of 1972, the camp (at My Lai 2) where the survivors of the My Lai Massacre had been relocated was largely destroyed by Army of the Republic of Vietnam artillery and aerial bombardment. The destruction was officially attributed to "Viet Cong terrorists". However, the truth was revealed by Quaker service workers in the area, through testimony (in May 1972) by Martin Teitel at hearings before the Congressional Subcommittee to Investigate Problems Connected with Refugees and Escapees. In June 1972, Teitel's account of the events was published in the New York Times.[31] The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was a military component of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam (commonly known as South Vietnam). ... Quaker redirects here. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ...


More than a thousand people turned out March 16, 2008, forty years after the massacre, to remember the victims of one of the most notorious chapters of the Vietnam War. The memorial drew the families of the victims and returning U.S. war veterans alike.[32] is the 75th day of the year (76th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000...


Effects and analysis

The explosive news of the massacre fueled the outrage of the antiwar movement, which demanded the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. It also led more potential draftees to file for conscientious objector status. Those who had always argued against the war felt vindicated; those on the fringes of the movement became more vocal. John T. Neufeld was a WWI conscientious objector sentenced to 15 years hard labour in the military prison at Leavenworth. ...


The more pivotal shift, however, was in the attitude of the general public toward the war. People who previously had not been interested in the peace/war debates began to analyze the issue more closely. The horrific stories of other soldiers began to be taken more seriously, and other abuses came to light.


Some military observers concluded that My Lai showed the need for more and better volunteers to provide stronger leadership for the troops. As the Vietnam conflict dragged on, the number of well trained and experienced career soldiers on the front lines dropped sharply as casualties and combat rotation took their toll. These observers claimed the absence of the many bright young men who avoided military service through college attendance or homeland service caused the talent pool for new officers to become very shallow.[33] They pointed to Calley, a young, unemployed college dropout, as an example of the raw and inexperienced recruits being rushed through officer training. Others pointed out problems with the military's insistence on unconditional obedience to orders while at the same time limiting the doctrine of "command responsibility" to the lowest ranks. Others saw My Lai and related war crimes as a direct result of the military's attrition strategy, with its emphasis on "body counts" and "kill ratios". The fact that the massacre was successfully covered up for 18 months was seen as a prime example of the Pentagon's "Culture of Concealment" and of the lack of integrity that permeated the Defense establishment. And the fact that Calley was the only officer convicted led many to see him as a scapegoat and a fall guy and something of a martyr.


Those involved

Calley and Meadlo were firing at the people. They were firing into the hole. I saw Meadlo firing into the hole.

Q: Well, tell me, what was so remarkable about Meadlo that made you remember him?
A: He was firing and crying.
Q: He was pointing his weapon away from you and then you saw tears in his eyes?
A: Yes.

—Private First Class Robert Maples[34]

Commanders

  • Frank A. Barker - Lieutenant-Colonel, commander of the Task Force Barker, ordered the destruction of the village, controlled the artillery preparation and combat assault from his helicopter, was killed in Vietnam on Jun 13 1968, before the investigation had begun.[2][35]
  • Stephen Brooks - Lieutenant who led the 2nd Platoon.
  • William L. Calley, Jr. - Lieutenant who led the 1st Platoon, the only person convicted of murder.
  • Oran K. Henderson - Colonel, brigade commander who ordered the attack, had been in the helicopter over My Lai.[2]
  • Samuel W. Koster - Major General, commandng officer of the Americal Division, charged with cover-up of the incident.
  • Eugene Kotouc - Captain from the military intelligence, provided some of the information on which the My Lai combat assault was based; together with Medina and a Vietnamese police officer, tortured and executed suspects later that day.[36]
  • Ernest Medina - Captain commanding Charlie Company who planned, ordered, and supervised the execution by his company of an unlawful operation against inhabited hamlets in Sơn Mỹ village.[37]

William Laws Calley, Jr. ... Samuel W. Koster (29 December 1919—23 January 2006 was a United States Army officer and the highest-ranking officer charged and punished for his role in the My Lai massacre. ... Ernest Lou Medina was a captain in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. ...

1st Platoon

Some of the soldiers of the 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, included:

  • Michael Bernhardt - enlisted man with rank of Sergeant, refused to participate in the killings of civilians and was threatened by Medina to not attempt to expose the massacre by writing to his congressman, and as a result he was allegedly given more dangerous duties such as point duty on patrol.[38] Later he would help expose and detail the massacre in numerous interviews with the press, and also served as a prosecution witness in the trial of Ernest Medina where he was subjected to intense cross examination by defense council F Lee Bailey. Recipient of 1970 'Ethical Humanist Award'.[39]
  • Herbert Carter - platoon tunnel rat, claimed he shot himself in the foot in order to be MEDEVACed out of the village.
  • Dennis Conti - testified he initially refused to shoot but later fired some M79 grenade launcher rounds at a group of fleeing people with unknown effect.
  • James Dursi - killed a mother and child, refused to kill anyone else even when ordered.
  • Ronald Grzesik - team leader, said he followed orders to round up civilians but refused to kill them.
  • Robert Maples - stated to have refused to participate.
  • Paul Meadlo - said he was afraid of being shot if he did not participate. Lost his foot to a land mine the next day, later publicly admitted his part in the massacre.
  • David Mitchell - Staff Sergeant accused by witnesses of shooting people at the ditch site; pleaded not guilty.[40]
  • Varnado Simpson - committed suicide in 1997, citing guilt over several murders committed in My Lai.
  • Charles Sledge - radio operator, later prosecution witness.
  • Harry Stanley - claimed to have refused to participate.
  • Esequiel Torres - previously had tortured and hanged an old man because Torres found his bandaged leg suspicious; he and Roschevitz were involved in the shooting of a group of ten women and five children in a hut, later he was ordered by Calley to shoot a number of people with M60 machine gun and he fired a burst before he refused to fire again, after which Calley took his weapon and opened fire himself.

This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... A [PC-12] of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. ... The M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot, shoulder-fired, break open grenade launcher which fires a 40 x46 mm grenade and first appeared during the Vietnam War. ... Pfc. ... For other uses, see M60. ...

Other soldiers

Charlie Company, the unit deployed in My Lai 4 on the day of the massacre led by Lt. Calley, was one of at least three that swept My Lai 4.

  • William Doherty and Michael Terry - soldiers in the 3rd Platoon who killed the wounded in the ditch.[25]
  • Ronald L. Haeberle - photographer attached to the 11th Brigade information office who accompanied C Company.
  • Nicholas Capezza - chief medic in Charlie Company, insisted he saw nothing unusual.
  • Sergeant Minh - ARVN interpreter confronted Cpt Medina when he entered the hamlet on why so many civilians had been killed. Cpt Medina replied: "Sergeant Minh, don’t ask anything -- those were the orders."[41]
  • Gary Roschevitz - according to various witnesses he forced seven women to undress and perform sex with him, when the women refused he reportedly shot them.[42]

One of Haeberles My Lai photos: Ronald L. Haeberle was a U.S. Army photographer who released pictures of the My Lai massacre to a horrified American and foreign public when it was published by LIFE magazine in late 1969. ...

Rescue helicopter

Intervention helicopter's crew consisted of:

30 years later the crew was decorated for their actions at My Lai with Soldier's Medals, the U.S. non-combat heroism awards (Andreotta, who was killed in action over Vietnam shortly after the events at My Lai, received the medal posthumously). Andreottas name on the Vietnam Wall, Panel 48 East, Row 50. ... Lawrence Colburn on the left of the photo Lawrence Colburn was an American helicopter gunner in the Vietnam War - noted for being one of three who intervened in the My Lai Massacre. ... Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Hugh C. Thompson, Jr. ... The Soldiers Medal is a military award of the United States Army. ...


Photographs

The massacre like many other operations in Vietnam was captured by photography by U.S. Army personnel, the most published and graphic photos were taken by Ronald Haeberle, a U.S Army 'Public Information Detachment' photographer who accompanied the men of Charlie company that day. Some of the (black and white) photographs he took were made using an army camera and were either subject to censorship or did not depict any Vietnamese causalities when published in an army newspaper, on the other hand Haberele took color photographs with his own camera while on duty the same day, and which he kept and later sold to the media.


Another soldier, John Henry Smail, 3rd Platoon, took at least 16 color photographs depicting U.S. Army personnel, helicopters, and aerial views of My Lai.[43] These, along with Haeberles photographs were included in the 'Report of the Department of the Army review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident'. Lt. Roger Louis Alaux, artillery officer who was with Cpt Medina during the massacre, also took some photographs that day, including aerial views of My Lai from a helicopter and of the LZ.

Motion picture

Oliver Stone planned to start production on a film titled Pinkville[44] about the investigation of General Peers into the My Lai Massacre,[3] featuring Bruce Willis (as General William Peers), Woody Harrelson (as Col. Henderson). However, United Artists halted its December 2007 production start because of the writers' strike. William Oliver Stone (born September 15, 1946), known as Oliver Stone, is a three-time Academy Award winning film director and screenwriter. ... Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is a Golden Globe- and double Emmy-winning German-born American actor and singer. ... Woodrow Woody Tracy Harrelson (born July 23, 1961) is an American Emmy Award winning and Academy Award nominated actor. ...


See also

The Human Rights Record of the United States (informally referred to as the China Human Rights Report) is a publication on the annual human rights record in the United States of America, published by the Information Office of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China. ... This is a list of current and past military scandals. ... The Massacre at Huế is the name given to describe the summary executions and mass killings that occurred during the Viet Cong and North Vietnams capture, occupation and withdrawal from the city of Huế during the Tet Offensive, considered one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam... The Phoenix Program (Vietnamese: Kế Hoạch Phụng Hoàng, a word related to fenghuang, the Chinese phoenix) or Operation Phoenix was a military, intelligence, and internal security coordination program designed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Vietnam War. ... Tiger Force was a task force of the United States Army, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade (Separate), 101st Airborne Division, which fought in the Vietnam War, between November 1965 and November 1967. ... The United States National Archives and Records Administration houses a collection of formerly secret documents compiled by Pentagon investigators in the early 1970s. ... Below is a list of incidents that are commonly labeled as massacres by reliable sources. ...

References

  1. ^ a b "Murder in the name of war - My Lai". BBC. July 20, 1998.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Summary report from the report of General Peers.
  3. ^ a b Department of the Army. Report of the Department of the Army Review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident (The Peers Report), Volumes I-III (1970).
  4. ^ My Lai was one of four hamlets associated with the village of "Son My". Americal Division Veterans Association.
  5. ^ The My Lai Massacre: Seymour Hersh's Complete and Unabridged Reporting for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 1969 /Candide's Notebooks
  6. ^ Peers Inquiry: Report of the Department of the Army Review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident.
  7. ^ "Neo-fascism and the religious right". By John M. Swomley. Humanist (magazine). Jan-Feb, 1995.
  8. ^ "Report of the Department of Army review of the preliminary investigations into the My Lai incident. Volume III, Exhibits, Book 6 - Photographs, 14 March 1970". From the Library of Congress, Military Legal Resources.[1]
  9. ^ "My Lai: A Question of Orders". Jan. 25, 1971. Time (magazine).
  10. ^ Summary of Peers Report. Significantly, he gave no instructions for segregating and safeguarding non-combatants. My Lai: An American Tragedy. © William George Eckhardt 2000.
  11. ^ Peers Report: The Omissions and Commissions Of Cpt. Ernest L. Medina.
  12. ^ "American soldiers testify in My Lai court martial". By Karen D. Smith. Dec. 6, 2000. Amarillo Globe-News.
  13. ^ "Ronald Haeberle, Witness for the Prosecution"
  14. ^ Laurence Rogerson & Sue Powell (1999). Exploring Vietnam - My Lai. Retrieved on 2006-03-16.
  15. ^ My Lai: An American Tragedy
  16. ^ Celina Dunlop, "My Lai: Legacy of a massacre", BBC News, fetched 16th March 2008,[2]
  17. ^ Into the Dark: The My Lai Massacre
  18. ^ Hugh Thompson | Times Online Obituary
  19. ^ Thompson's own testimony before a conference at the University of Tulane in 1994[3] and from the Peers Report summary.
  20. ^ Heroes of My Lai honoured. March 7, 1998. BBC News.
  21. ^ Into the Dark: The My Lai Massacre
  22. ^ My Lai Massacre
  23. ^ "Behind Colin Powell's Legend -- My Lai" by Robert Parry and Norman Solomon, The Consortium for Independent Journalism, July 22, 1996.
  24. ^ Interview on CNN's Larry King Live with Secretary Colin L. Powell (May 4, 2004). Retrieved on 2006-03-16.
  25. ^ a b Text of Ron Ridenhour's 1969 letter
  26. ^ Biography of General William R. Peers
  27. ^ "Biography of Oran Henderson"
  28. ^ Neier, A. War Crimes: Brutality, Genocide, Terror, and the Struggle for Justice, Random House, p. 95
  29. ^ "An Introduction to the My Lai Courts-Martial"
  30. ^ Marshall, Burke; Goldstein, Joseph. "Learning From My Lai: A Proposal on War Crimes", The New York Times, 2 April 1976, p. 26. 
  31. ^ Teitel, Martin. "Again, the Suffering of Mylai", New York Times, 1972-06-06, pp. 45. Retrieved on 2008-03-19. 
  32. ^ My Lai survivors gather to pray for victims
  33. ^ PBS/The American Experience. The My Lai Massacre
  34. ^ Lt. William Calley Court-martial:testimony
  35. ^ Ltc Frank Akeley Barker
  36. ^ My Lai: An American Tragedy
  37. ^ Peers Report: Captain Ernset Medina
  38. ^ http://books.google.ca/books?id=1wisoI-wP5MC&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=michael+bernhardt+medina&source=web&ots=CnXD8WToZF&sig=zwCitz8NCEzd9erflJROVcDqESg&hl=en
  39. ^ The Ethical Humanist Award: New York Society for Ethical Culture
  40. ^ The My Lai Trials Begin - TIME
  41. ^ Four Hours in My Lai: A Case Study
  42. ^ Trin Yarborough book: Surviving Twice: Amerasian Children of the Vietnam War. 2005. Page 19. ISBN 1574888641.
  43. ^ LHCMA Catalogue: FOUR HOURS IN MY LAI television documentary archive, 1964-1992
  44. ^ Pinkville (2008) at IMDB.

For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an educational organization in the United States that advances Humanism. ... Construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building, from July 8, 1888 to May 15, 1894. ... “TIME” redirects here. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 75th day of the year (76th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... BBC News is the department within the BBC responsible for the corporations news-gathering and production of news programmes on BBC television, radio and online. ... Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist who has written extensively about the Iran-Contra scandal. ... Norman Solomon (1952 - ) is a Jewish American journalist and antiwar activist from Maryland who writes frequently about media and politics. ... is the 203rd day of the year (204th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... is the 124th day of the year (125th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 75th day of the year (76th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 92nd day of the year (93rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1976 Pick up sticks(MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 157th day of the year (158th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2008 (MMVIII) is the current year, a leap year that started on Tuesday of the Anno Domini (or common era), in accordance to the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 78th day of the year (79th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) [1] is an online database of information about actors, movies, television shows, television stars and video games. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ...

Further reading

  • Vietnamese Wikipedia; Thảm sát Sơn Mỹ, cited 7 June 2006. (Vietnamese Wikipedia article on the subject)
  • 161st Assault Helicopter Company. Unit History of the 161st Assault Helicopter Company (who intervened in the massacre)
  • Americal Division Veterans Association; Americal Locations in Vietnam, cited 3 June 2006.
  • Anderson, David L. (1998) Facing My Lai: Moving Beyond the Massacre University Press of Kansas: Lawrence, Kansas — extensive interviews with trial participants and soldiers.
  • Becker, Elizabeth. Kissinger Tapes Describe Crises, War and Stark Photos of Abuse., The New York Times, May 27, 2004 (mirrored)
  • Belknap, Michal R. (2002) The Vietnam War on Trial: The My Lai Massacre and the Court-Martial of Lieutenant Calley. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1211-4.
  • Bilton, Michael and Sim, Kevin. (1992) Four Hours in My Lai New York: Viking, 1992 — a recent re-examination, draws extensively on interviews with participants and contains detailed bibliographic references.
  • Chomsky, Noam. After Pinkville, Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam, 1971
  • Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact & Propaganda, 1973 and 2004
  • Colburn, Lawrence and Paula Brock. The Choices Made — Lessons from My Lai on Drawing the Line, Seattle Times, March 10, 2002
  • Gershen, Martin. (1971) Destroy or Die: The True Story of My Lai New York: Arlington House.
  • Goldstein, Joseph. (1976) The My Lai Massacre and its Cover-Up New York: Free Press.
  • Hammer, Richard. (1971) The Court-Martial of Lt. Calley New York: Coward.
  • Hersh, Seymour M. (1972). Cover-up: the Army's secret investigation of the massacre at My Lai 4. Random House. ISBN 0-394-47460-0.
  • Hersh, Seymour M. (1970). My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath. Random House. ISBN 0-394-43737-3.
  • Hersh, Seymour M. The original, Pulitzer-Prize winning articles about the My Lai massacre for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, 13 November, 20 November and 25 November 1969.
  • My Lai and Why It Matters: Review of Ron Ridenhour's Videotaped Lecture
  • O'Brien, Tim. (1994) In the Lake of the Woods, McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 1-895246-31-8 — a haunting work of historical fiction about a Vietnam Vet who can't escape his own experience of My Lai.
  • Olson, James S. and Roberts, Randy (eds.) (1998) My Lai: A Brief History with Documents, Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0-312-17767-4
  • Peers, William. (1979) The My Lai Inquiry New York: Norton.
  • Raimondo, Maj. Tony, JA. The My Lai Massacre: A Case Study, Human Rights Program, School of the Americas, Fort Benning, Georgia
  • Ridenhour, Ron. "Jesus Was a Gook"
  • Sack, John. (1971) Lieutenant Calley: His Own Story New York: Viking.
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School. The My Lai Courts-Martial, 1970
  • Teitel, Martin. Again, the Suffering of Mylai, article preview, New York Times, 7 June 1972, pg. 45.
  • Texas Tech University. The Vietnam Oral History Project
  • The Toledo Blade. Special Report: Tiger Force
  • Valentine, Douglas. The Phoenix Program, 1990. [4]. Chapter 24, "Transgressions" (deals with the My Lai massacre), online: [5]. Author permission further explained: [6]

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External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
My Lai Massacre

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  Results from FactBites:
 
American Experience | Vietnam Online | The My Lai Massacre | PBS (566 words)
My Lai lay in the South Vietnamese district of Son My, a heavily mined area where the Vietcong were deeply entrenched.
As the gruesome details of My Lai reached the American public, serious questions arose concerning the conduct of American soldiers in Vietnam.
A military commission investigating the massacre found widespread failures of leadership, discipline, and morale among the Army's fighting units.
My Lai Massacre - definition of My Lai Massacre - Labor Law Talk Dictionary (1559 words)
The My Lai massacre (pronounced "Me Lie") was a massacre by American soldiers of hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children, on March 16, 1968, during the Vietnam War.
The carnage at My Lai might have gone unknown to history if not for another soldier, Ron Ridenhour, who, independent of Glen, sent a letter to President Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous members of Congress.
The explosive news of the massacre fueled the outrage of the American peace movement, which demanded the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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