My Lai 4: A Book Report




On March 16, 1968, "Charlie Company" was sent into a small
Viet Cong village called (by the U.S.) My Lai 4. Their
instructions by commanding officers were: "... kill every man,
woman, child and animal in the village. Burn all the homes ....
nothing should be walking, growing or crawling."
Orders were followed, and as I read the first 65 pages of
this book, I was exposed to the detailed death of 306 civilians,
mostly women, small children, and old people. There was no
threat to any American GIs ... there were no Viet Cong Solders in
the area. I read of the rape of a 14 year old girl by twenty GIs
... in front of the parents. They were all shot after the GIs
were "done with their business." This was only one of many.
Most of the murders were conducted, BY ORDER OF OFFICERS, to
round-up the families from their homes, forced into ditches, and
shot. Women dove to cover their children. Later, children just
old enough to walk crawled out from under their mutilated
mothers\' bodies, only to be shot as target practice by the GIs.
It is later estimated that approximately 500 civilians were
murdered, and (probably) no VC were in the area.
I could go into detail about the killing. However, most of
the book was devoted to the time before the massacre, and
afterward. The officers and GIs of "Charlie Company" were
introduced in the beginning of the book: the officers had been
social outcasts all their life (LT. Calley & Medina). Both had
decided to devote their life to the military. The GIs were
selected for "Charlie Company" specifically because they had all
scored too low on the initial exam to be put into a regular
battalions.
After the massacre, nothing was done. As a matter of fact,
"Charlie Company" was praised for having the "most kills" in one
day. By late 1969, most of the GIs in Charlie Company were
civilians again, and a few began to tell what they had seen (and
participated in). A Government Investigation was called against
Lt. Calley (who ordered, and participated in the murders). Some
of the photographs from the massacre were published. You
wouldn\'t believe what the civilian response was! The
overwhelming public response was to drop the charges; they
thought that there was nothing wrong with the massacre,
OR they didn\'t believe it really happened. As a matter of fact,
Lt. Calley had become a hero as an AMERICAN! There was a hugely-
supported donation drive to pay for Calley\'s legal fees.
The final outcome: nothing. Calley was demoted to a Army
"Office Job" after the murders were proved. The soldiers of
Charlie Company went on with life, most of whom are/were
suffering mental disorders from the scaring event. Calley\'s
officer above him (who REALLY gave the initial orders) was never
investigated, though it was proven that he also participated in
the massacre. The author, Seymour M. Hersh, wrote (I read that
book 3 years ago), which is credited with having a major
influence on this country\'s decision to stop production of
biological weapons. Mr. Hersh began his journalism career as a
police reporter for the city news bureau in Chicago, and
later covered the Pentagon for the Associated Press. Mr. Hersh
was press secretary for the Senator Eugene McCarthy early in his
campaign for Democratic Presidential nomination. He won a
special George Polk Memorial Award in February, 1970, and the
Worth Bengham Prize in March, 1970, for his reporting on the My
Lai 4 massacre. He is married and lives in Washington, D.C.
As I have read 2 books by this man, I feel that he provides
some really good, controversial information. He has obviously
done a lot of studying. From the information I could find on
him, I cannot determine if he has had any past occurrences that
motivated him to find out about atrocities of war. However, he
may be like me .... and has a bit of compassion for others, and
hates to see others hurt by unnecessary wars! In the preface of
this book, Mr Hersh made a point to outline his sources.
Everything in the book is a