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The My Lai Massacre

A newspaper article describing the events of 16th March 1968

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Transcript of The My Lai Massacre

Early in the morning, Charlie Company arrived in My Lai. In the next four hours, between 300 and 400 civilians were killed. They were mostly women, children and old men. Some were killed while they worked in their fields. Many of them were mown down by machine-gun fire as they were herded into an irrigation ditch. Others were shot in their homes. No Viet Cong were found in the village. Only three weapons were recovered.
Most of the soldiers had never been away from their homes before they went into service. And they end up in Vietnam going there many of them because they thought they were going to do something courageous on behalf of their country, something which they thought was in the American ideal.
But it didn't mean slaughtering whole villages of women and children. One of my friends, when he told me about it, said: 'You know it was a Nazi kind of thing.' We didn't go there to be Nazis. At least none of the people I knew went there to be Nazis.
Written by Ronald Ridenhour
16th March
A Success?
Present day
At the time, the army treated the operation as a success. The Commanding officer's report said that twenty non-combatants had been killed by accident in the attack, but the rest of the dead were recorded as being Viet Cong. The officers and men involved were praised. All the soldiers knew that it had taken place, but they just took it to be a normal and inevitable part of the war.
Yesterday a letter arrived in the offices of 30 leading politicians and government officials in Washington. It was written by Ronald Ridenhour, an American soldier who had served in Vietnam and who personally knew many of the soldiers who took part in the massacre. He had evidence, he said, of 'something rather dark and bloody' that had occurred in My Lai. He recounted in detail all the stories he had been told about what had taken place, and he has now asked Congress to investigate.
Five cents
Monday, 25th March, 1969
Vol CXIX, No. 41,597
What really happened at My Lai?
My Lai Massacre
Aftermath
Last year, a unit of young American soldiers called Charlie Company started a search-and-destroy mission in the Quang Ngai region of South Vietnam. They had been told that in the My Lai area there was a Viet Cong headquarters, and 200 Viet Cong guerrillas. The soldiers had been ordered to destroy all houses, dwellings and livestock. They had been told that all the villagers would have left for market because it was a Saturday. Most of them were under the impression that they had been ordered to kill everyone they found in the village.

to the American public. They may also turn out to be the clearest bits of evidence towards the possibility of the war going wrong for the US.
The New York Times
A photograph taken at My Lai on 16th March 1968
US helicopters and troops at My Lai
The events that occured in My Lai are deeply shocking
By Matthew Tyrrell and Matthew Watson
Full transcript