Monday, January 17, 2011


March 16, 1968

Squad Leader: The morning started early on the 16th. This was going to be an all-out war, shades of Iwo Jima.

Machine Gunner: We began hearing radio chatter that the helicopter's were being fired on. We hit the ground and almost immediately began firing into the village area.

Team Leader #1: I remember somebody yelling, There's people moving in the village. So we all opened up.

Grenadier: We went in further and people started coming out of their houses. We went, What is this? They're not supposed to be in here. A crazy guy says, They must be VC. Some of the guys started shooting 'em. 

Radio Operator: Once the first civilian was killed, it was too late.

My Lai Villager #3: Around 8:30 three American soldiers came to my house. They pushed six of us down into the shelter and threw a hand grenade in behind us and then they used their machine guns to shoot us down. My entire family was blown into pieces. The only person left alive was me.

My Lai Villager #1:  My brother younger than me, only three years old, one shot blasted his head onto the floor.

Squad Leader: We were a unit that was full of anger and frustration. We wanted to fight the enemy and we were told we were doing it.

Team Leader #1: I am a soldier and I receive and obey the orders that are issued to me by my superiors. Their order was to kill or destroy everything in the village. The children happened to be there. The people of that village were Viet Cong or Viet Cong sympathizers. Maybe some see it differently. That's the way I see it.

U.S. Army Photographer: I was the only photographer on the operation that day. I just photographed everything I came upon. I was coming up to a group of people and they had some American GIs surrounding them. One soldier spoke up, Hey, here's a person with a camera. And sure enough the soldiers backed off and I moved up and I took a photograph of these people. You can see the fear in their faces, especially the older woman trying to protect the daughter. Then all of a sudden automatic fire. I saw them all drop to the ground.

Helicopter Gunner #1: The morning of My Lai it was crystal clear. We came in and strafed the ground in case anyone jumped up and offered resistance. We were never fired upon. It was Saturday morning. We thought, Good, people are going to market. When we came back 10 or 15 minutes later those same people were dead or dying along the road. At some point during the day we started seeing bodies accumulate in the village, women and kids. I'd never seen anything like that. It was bad. 

Helicopter Gunner #2: We lingered by one of the bodies. It was a young woman with a chest wound but still alive. Mr. Thompson decided to move back and hover and watch. Then we saw a captain walk up and kick her and then step back and blow her away. Later we learned it was Captain Medina, Captain Ernest Medina. 

Squad Leader: As we got into the village orders changed. We were to stop firing. We were moving people we found and pushing them into the center of the village and they were being picked up by Calley's platoon more or less and moved onward.

My Lai Villager #4: I directed my kids to go with me, but they still hit us and kicked us.

Helicopter Gunner #1: We saw the people, about 150 of them, old men, women, and children gathered at a drainage ditch. Mr. Thompson landed his little scout helicopter and said, We gotta help these people. A soldier said, Yeah. We'll help them out of their misery.

Suddenly Calley gave the order to begin firing.

Meadlo: So we just pushed 'em off and began firing.

Squad Leader: Paul Meadlo had a strong sense of duty. I like to think if I'd been in his place, I would have said, You've got to be kidding me and walked away and taken my chances that Calley wouldn't have shot me.

Team Leader #2: Calley yelled at me to come help him and I just walked on like I hadn't heard him. That was disobeying an order and he could have done anything to me he wanted, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to help him kill people in a ditch. To this day I always think to myself, What could I have done to stop it? And I don't know the answer to that. 

My Lai Villager #5: To survive I lay under my mother's stomach as the ditch filled with blood.

My Lai Villager #4: To protect my daughter I covered her mouth with my breast. I saw my dad walking around and I wanted to call out, Lie down Dad, or you will be shot. But I didn't dare say anything and they shot him. Half his head blew away.

Helicopter Gunner #1: Mr. Thompson was just beside himself. He got on the radio and just said, There's people down here killing civilians. That's when he decided to intervene. He said, We've got to stop this. Are you with me? And we said, Yes. We saw a group of people running toward a bunker. Mr. Thompson calculated they had less than 30 seconds to live. He said, I'm going to go get those people out myself  and if these American soldiers fire on me or the people while I'm getting them out of the bunker, shoot 'em. I remember thinking, How did we get into this?

Squad Leader: I saw these helicopter gunners and they were pointing their guns right at me, and I thought, Oh my God, what are they gonna do?

Helicopter Gunner #1: Three people came out, six people came out, 11 or 12 people came out and Mr. Thompson got on the radio and called his friend, a gunship pilot, and said, Danny, I need a favor.

Gunship Pilot: We landed and picked up those people and we never landed in the boonies like that. I don't know why we did it other than those people needed to be out of there. 

Helicopter Gunner #1: We went back to the ditch and I saw some motion down in the ditch. I saw this child move.

My Lai Villager #5: I lifted my head up and saw a helicopter landing at the rice fields. I was really scared. Wasn't sure if they would shoot again. But when I lifted my head, I saw three American soldiers approach. I pretended to be dead. But the Americans, the three of them came down into the ditch and they came and pulled me out. 

Helicopter Gunner #1: We left the boy with a nun at a hospital. We told her, He probably doesn't have any family.

Squad Leader: After a while the order came: Cease fire! Cease fire! You'd hear a couple guns still going off and then they'd stop. And then it was quiet. 

My Lai Villager #3: They left my village in blood and fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got your panties in a bunch? Dig 'em out, get comfortable, and let's chat.