In this episode we will take a look at one of the more unpleasant episodes of the Vietnam War. The My Lai Massacre, Lt Calley and Captain Ernest Medina will be front and center. The incident happened in March of 1968 in the Village of Song Me which is just North of Duc Pho where I briefly encountered Captain Medina as his unit was landing at the beach and moving north to join with the Americal Division.
The New Historian recently featured an article titled: First Charges Brought Against My Lai Soldiers posted By: Daryl Worthington. The story recapped the sordid affair where between 100 and 500 innocent Vietnamese civilians were slaughtered by Lt Calley and his platoon. According to the story in the New Historian the event was hushed up by the military authorities and it was the crusading media who brought it to light. Eventually when such a horrific event takes place the truth will eventually rise to the surface. Decent individuals soon have to bare their consciences and tell the truth.
The US Army set up an investigation commission under Lieutenant General William Peers, the Commander of the 4th Infantry Division when I was a member of that illustrious outfit. That is another personal connection to the My Lai Massacre. Means nothing in the broad scheme of historical events but it does hold my interest. I know both Captain Medina and General Peers who had a connection to the event. Isn’t it interesting how there was so much outrage when an unqualified young American Army officer committed an atrocity that was par for the course for the Viet Cong and NVA and nobody seemed to care about those other than the slaughtered ones immediate family.
General Peers Commission on My Lai recommended that 28 soldiers be charged for the crimes at My Lai, although the army ultimately only elected to court martial 14, including Calley and his commanding officer, Captain Medina. Ultimately, all of the soldiers would be acquitted apart from Calley who was found guilty on 22 counts of murdering civilians, and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sentence was reduced to ten years, and he was paroled after serving only four years of his sentence.