Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Early on March 16,1968, Company C, 1/20th Infantry, commanded by Captain Ernest Medina, landed by helicopter to the west of the hamlet of My Lai in Quang Ngai province. Lieutenant William L. Calley's 1st Platoon landed first, fanning out to cross dried-out paddies before entering the southern half of the hamlet. They were joined by 2d Platoon, which swept through the northern half before diverting to the neighboring hamlet of Binh Tay. Company C was searching for the 48th VC Battalion.

My Lai--a required VC village--was quiet; yet in the next four hours more than 300 old men, women, and children were killed, livestock destroyed, and houses burned, No American casualties were sustained, either here or in Binh Tay, where similar warcrimes took place.

The events of March 16 were officially covered up for over a year until Ronald Ridenhour, a soldier who had heard about the massacre from its perpetrators, sent copies of evidence he had compiled to 30 prominent politicians. As news of the atrocity leaked out, the Army ordered an official investigation, the result of which was that a number of officers and men were charged with unlawful killing. Only Calley stood trial, raising criticisms that he was being used as a scapegoat and that the real culprits--his superior officers who were stressing the need for aggression and a large body count--escaped. In March, 1971, Calley was convicted by a jury of six senior officers of the first-degree murder of 22 unarmed civilians. He was given life imprisonment, reduced to ten years on appeal. He was released on parole in 1974.

Lieutenant William Calley was charged with war crimes that shocked the American public.