Friday, January 21, 2011


When The Killing Was Over

The cover-up of My Lai began immediately. Captain Medina called Headquarters and said 123 people had been killed.

Squad Leader: Captain Medina told us, Do not answer questions from anybody about this last mission.

Team Leader: We all thought we were going to get in big trouble so we didn't talk much about it. We were ordered to move onward but Captain Medina said, Don't go past the wire. There's a Korean bunker there and it's heavily mined. So as soon as we got to the wire, Calley said, You, you, and you. Come with me. We're going up. And almost right away Meadlo stepped on a mine and blew his foot off. As they MEDIVACed him out Meadlo yelled back at Calley, God got me and he'll get you for what we did.

Squad Leader: Following the My Lai incident, Charlie Company was sent out in the jungle for two months straight. It was almost like they put us there so we wouldn't talk to anybody.

Helicopter Gunner: It was either the same day or the next, I was still in my fatigues that were covered in blood, that Mr. Thompson took me with him to see Colonel Douglas. He went in and came out and just motioned toward the door. I went in and told Colonel Douglas there had been unnecessary killing of civilians. He made a few notes on a legal pad and dismissed me. We got outside and Mr. Thompson smashed his helmet and tore off his wings and said he'd never fly again. But they kept sending him out on missions alone in dangerous places. He crashed four or five helicopters in a few months. He thought somebody wanted to get rid of him. 

Squad Leader: Fifty-four days. Fifty-four days we were without hardly a change of clothing. We were all sick. We got dysentery. It stuck in my mind, Why are they doing this? Why are they sending us out at night? To get rid of us? The company changed after. Nobody cared anymore. It had all been a game and the game was over. 

Aspiring Journalist Who Later Befriended Members of Charlie Company: We traded war stories. One day one of them said, Hey, did you hear what happened at Pinkville? I said, No, what happened? He said, We were ordered to kill everybody there. I got as much information as I could and when I got home I wrote a letter that said it needed to be investigated. I made 30 copies. Then the photographer sold the pictures to a newspaper. They became ubiquitous -- a symbol of violence. 

Machine Gunner: An unmarked limousine came to our houses and picked us up and took us to the Pentagon and we went down and down and down into a War Room and sat at the end of a table in front of a microphone, feeling very small.

The Charges

Colonel Henderson

Dereliction of duty
Failure to report a war crime
False swearing

Major McKnight:

False swearing

Major Calhoun:

Dereliction of duty
Failure to report a war crime

Captain Kotouc:


Colonel Parson:

Dereliction of duty
Failure to obey lawful regulation

Captain Medina:

Assault with a deadly weapon
Premeditated murder

Lieutenant Calley:

Premeditated murder

Machine Gunner: People say you shouldn't obey an illegal order, but trust me, during war there's no such thing as an illegal order. You disobey an order and they put you up against a wall and shoot you.

President Nixon intervened. Calley served four months of his life sentence at Leavenworth.

Army Prosecutor: Calley got away with it and that made it clear that everyone would get away with it. The other charges were dismissed or resulted in acquittals.

Five hundred seven people were murdered at My Lai.

Squad Leader: It hurts me now, thinking about the innocent people dying. It hurts me now more than it did then. Because then we were thinking about not dying.

My Lai Villager #4: It's been a while. Now I can sleep at night, but sometimes I dream about my dad. How my sister died. How they died next to me. I remember all the time.

Squad Leader: I remember what went on, all the sleepless nights we had. My Lai. All the people we killed. I thought I could make it easier by drinking but every night I lay down and whether I drank, it didn't make it easier. It's still the same thing. The memories kept comin' back, kept comin' back.

My Lai Villager #1: I will never forget. When I am reminded, I suddenly feel the pain. A chapter in the book opens. There is no way I will ever forget. I will never forget.

1 comment:

  1. Immeasurable tragedy. So horrible to think about. So necessary to remember.


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