History Paper

History Paper - Erin Kinsella Section: F 12:45 4/15/08 The...

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Erin Kinsella Section: F 12:45 4/15/08 The My Lai Massacre My Lai was a tragedy; hundreds of innocent lives were lost. The hamlets and the wreckage, caused by the soldiers, were burned to erase everything that existed. The American soldiers of Charlie company went into the hamlet with the order to destroy everything and they did. Elders, men, women, children and even babies were brutally shot and killed. The massacre can never be excused but the actions of the soldiers that day can try to be explained and better understood. The slaughter at My Lai was a terrible act committed by soldiers that were instilled with fear of their enemy, given bad information, and forced to carry out orders by revenge-seeking leaders. A cloud of confusion surrounded March 16, 1968. American soldiers stationed near the hamlet were given information by intelligence officers regarding Vietcong’s 48 th Local Force Battalion. The intelligence officers believed the 48 th was regrouping and rebuilding after a major loss during the Tet Offensive and that they were taking refuge in a hamlet designated My Lai (4). It was a common thought that every morning the civilians went to the market. From this it was figured that when the civilians left, there would only Vietcong would still in the village. The conclusion was then drawn that an early morning attack would be the best way to get rid of the Vietcong’s 48 th . 1 This information however, was not entirely true. How many Vietcong were in or around My Lai area will probably never be known, but what is known, is that the civilians did not attend the market that morning. Instead, they were woken up by gun fire 1 Olson and Roberts, 18
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and an ambush of American soldiers. 2 The soldiers, also referred to as Charlie Company, were led by Lieutenant William Calley and were ordered to go into My Lai and destroy the enemy. The order, while it seems simple on the surface was quite the opposite. This was because the Vietnam War was a guerilla war. The enemy used every tactic except face to face battle, to attack the American troops. This made figuring out who was the enemy extremely difficult. “In Vietnam, officers instructed their men, the enemy could be any Vietnamese. Of course, all soldiers in the North Vietnamese army were enemies, as were
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course COM 107 taught by Professor Chock during the Fall '08 term at Syracuse.

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History Paper - Erin Kinsella Section: F 12:45 4/15/08 The...

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