The Lai Massacre

Rico Lewis

Mỹ Lai, called “Pinkville” by the U.S, is located northeast of Quang Ngai City. There was three companies operating there, in the belief that Quang Ngai province was the fortress of the communist National Liberation Front (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC). The company of most interest is the Charlie Company as they plotted revenge on Mỹ Lai, because the workers would often be harmed or killed while observing the area from the booby traps and enemy soldiers.

The results of these “search and destroy” operations (to destroy the trouble spot and all the inhabitants) issued by the Charlie Company would prove to be the push for the massacre of 1968. However, this was able to occur quickly and unknowingly with U.S Army support. Lieutenant William Calley motivated the Charlie Company to take physical action against hundreds of Mỹ Lai citizens.


March 16, 1968

After breakfast and searching for weapons in huts of Mỹ Lai citizens, Calley ordered his men to start the massacre with the ultimate goal of ‘eliminating’ as many people as possible.

This massacre brutally killed over 300 citizens. This included women, children, and the elderly. No one was speared, even if they surrendered. Some victims were mutilated with a “C Company” craved into their chest and women were gang raped.

As the massacre was coming to an end, Pilot (Officer Hugh Thompson) of an army helicopter arrived at Lai to witness the senseless killings. He reported them to headquarters and evacuated surviving victims, around 9 citizens were saved.

This story was exposed by Ronald Ridenhour, a solder that reported on this event due to the solders up-front telling him what they truly did. He also sent this letter of the report to the government. General Westmoreland did not believe this report, to be proven otherwise by the evidence.

On September 5, 1969, punishment was given to the main planner of this event, Calley, who was charged with 109 counts of murder. However, President Nixon  pardoned him and his actions. So, Calley only served three years instead of life.