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My Lai Massacre

The Massacre Conducted by U.S. Soldiers in My Lai During the Vietnam War


My Lai Massacre: On March 16, 1968, U.S. soldiers from Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division, led by Lt. William Calley, entered the Vietnamese village of My Lai on a search and destroy mission during the Vietnam War. Under Lt. Calley's command, the soldiers massacred somewhere between 347 and 504 civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. Many of the victims were raped, tortured, and/or mutilated. Lt. Calley himself mowed down large groups of civilians with a machine gun.

Calley was charged with murder in September 1969 - over a year after the massacre. Although other officers and enlisted men were also charged, only Calley was convicted. Calley, who claimed he was only following orders, was held responsible for the massacre and sentenced to life in prison. Calley's sentence was later commuted and he was released in 1974.

When the American public first heard of the My Lai Massacre in November 1969, they were outraged. As the details of the My Lai Massacre became known, many people questioned the role of U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War.

The My Lai Massacre reduced American support for the unpopular Vietnam War even further.

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