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The My Lai Massacre - Essay Example

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The My Lai Massacre

In the end people, departments and institutions flew blame from right, left and center with just a handful of people bearing the burden of prosecution despite it being quite clear that many more had been involved. The power structure at the time actually did well to evade harm from the incident not considering that it was the source of the main problem that not only architected the massacre but also tried to sugar coat it in the name of a bigger and justified war in Vietnam that was supposedly being pursued to protect American interests abroad. According to Olson and Roberts, a few days before the My Lai massacre, there were increasing number of heavy losses and casualties on the side of American soldiers (13). These were caused by snipers, booby traps and mines. SGT George Cox is one of the notable soldiers who died from a booby trap while on patrol just two days before the massacre. Those who died or suffered injuries were mostly on patrol and most of these happened near My Lai hamlet. These incidents had slowly undermined American forces’ strength and ability to neutralize the Vietcong operating mainly from My Lai hamlet. These Vietcong units had managed to remain intact owing to their continuous execution of small-scale operations (14). The massacre itself took four hours where more than 400 civilians were killed by American forces from 0730hrs. The operation in My Lai hamlet started by aimless shooting around the selected soldiers landing spot and it went on for about three minutes. This was done not to kill anyone in particular but to disburse any enemy within that proximity so as to ease the access towards the hamlet. This however resulted to widespread panic from those inhabiting the hamlet that morning. Soldiers for the next 30 minutes edged towards the hamlet loaded mainly with pistols and M-16s on full automatic. The soldiers split up at around 0800hrs and begun a thorough search for Vietcong and their weaponry. In this instance lack of coordination started and resulted in haphazard turn of events. Frustration creped in and soldiers started shooting at anything that moved. “Soldiers shot old men sitting outside their homes, women carrying water, children searching for places to hide. …women were raped at gunpoint…” (22). 1LT Calley is a notable figure and was to blame for a great deal that happened that morning. However, Charlie Company herded Vietnamese in order to guard them and not to kill. Calley testified to have plainly ordered his soldiers to kill the Vietnamese whether armed or otherwise where the latter turned to be the absolute scenario. This resulted in many unarmed civilians grouped up and shot in cold blood while Calley himself was involved in most incidents. At this point an army photographer, Ronald Haeberle was taking all the action as it happened. It is important to note that only a few soldiers in the Charlie Company engaged their arms in the morning slaughter. Another was Hugh Thomson Jr. who was a pilot at the time and who tried to intervene and stop a group of soldiers from killing a group of Vietnamese. What had happened all morning was nothing short of a massacre against the people of My Lai. The whole operation resulted to recovery of only three weapons. Reported official figure at that time was the killing of 128 enemies. This immediately followed efforts of cover up starting with Captain Medina. The military was made deeply aware of the incident on 29 March 1969 through a letter by Ronald Ridenhour. This led to deeper investigations which revealed a ...Show more

Summary

Module Professor Due Date The My Lai Massacre The book My Lai: A Brief History with Documents by Olson and Roberts clearly illustrates the incident or rather the massacre that occurred in My Lai hamlet, Vietnam on the morning of 16 March 1968…
Author : qhackett
The My Lai Massacre essay example
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