Reflecting on My Lai – 46 years on


Novelist Tim O'Brien wants us to remember My Lai


By Brad Buchholz

May 29, 2010



Tim O'Brien has been thinking lately about My Lai how those two words still haunt America, even as they've lost meaning to so many Americans. Just last month, O'Brien mentioned the My Lai massacre, in passing, while talking to a class of university students about the Vietnam War. It shocked him that no one in the room had heard of it.


"It got me thinking about what's happening in history classes, and just in ordinary discourse in our country," says O'Brien…."To me, it would be a little bit like a Texan never having heard of the Alamo. Or somebody living in Montana never having heard of the Little Big Horn. Or someone living in Massachusetts never having heard of the (Boston) Tea Party, or the American Revolution — events both critical to American history and exposing the flaws in America's own past."



My Lai Hero Honored (2007)


December 5, 2007


Only public pressure forced the Pentagon to recognize Thompson with the Soldier's Medal in 1998, an honor that left a bad taste in his mouth.


But on Thursday night, that all changes.


He's to be inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame, a medal not from the government that once scorned his actions, but from fellow pilots who understand



My Lai Revisited (1972)


September 25, 2012 9:29 AM


In this requiem to My Lai - the Vietnamese village where, in March 1968, American soldiers massacred 504 citizens - Morley Safer describes a place haunted by those killings. Morley says that while local farmers still tend the rice paddies in My Lai, no one lives there anymore.



Back to My Lai – 60 Minutes/CBS News (1999)


March 29, 1998 8:37 AM


Larry Colburn and Hugh Thompson, members of an Army helicopter crew, risked their lives in 1968 to save Vietnamese civilians from American GIs during the My Lai massacre. Now, Colburn and Thompson return to My Lai with Mike Wallace to meet the survivors.



Four Hours in My Lai (1988)

(Description from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Four Hours in My Lai is a 1989 television documentary made by the British Yorkshire Television, concerning the 1968 My Lai massacre by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The programme was broadcast on ITV as part of Yorkshire Television's First Tuesday documentaries, which broadcast on the first Tuesday of every month. The documentary is narrated by Mark Halliley.

View  video available on YouTube:

Four Hours in My Lai 1/7

Four Hours in My Lai 2/7

Four Hours in My Lai 3/7

Four Hours in My Lai 4/7

Four Hours in My Lai 5/7

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Four Hours in My Lai 7/7

Papers relating to Four hours in My Lai, television documentary archive, 1964-1992


King's College London

Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives




My Lai

A recent documentary broadcast as part of the PBS American Experience program in 2010 (online video no longer available on PBS)


In an exploration of the morality of actions taken in the name of war, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE directs its lens to the 1968 My Lai massacre and asks what drove a company of American soldiers to commit the worst atrocity in American military history? Were they "just following orders" or, did they crumble under the pressure of a vicious war in which the line between enemy soldier and civilian had been intentionally blurred?


What drove a company of American soldiers -- ordinary young men deployed to liberate a small foreign nation from an oppressive neighbor -- to murder more than 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians? Were they "just following orders," as some later declared? Or, as others argued, did they break under the pressure of a misguided military strategy that measured victory by body count?


Today, as the United States once again finds itself questioning the morality of actions taken in the name of war, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Barak Goodman ("The Lobotomist," "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy") focuses his lens on the 1968 My Lai massacre, its subsequent cover-up and the heroic efforts of the soldiers who broke rank to halt the atrocities.


"This film includes imagery that may not be appropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers. Viewer discretion is advised."



An Army Vet on Prisoner Torture in Iraq: Abu Ghraib as My Lai?



I just viewed images of American soldiers torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners. My first thought was, "Is this the My Lai of Iraq?" On March 16, 1968, in the village of My Lai, Vietnam, a group of American soldiers, under the command of platoon leader Lt. William Calley, killed several hundred Vietnamese civilians, including women and children. A witness to this turned them in. A year later, charges were brought against Calley and his troops. He was sentenced to prison, and was released after only a few years.





Winter Soldier 1972 (Full)


Published on Nov 2, 2012


The film, shot largely in black and white, features testimony by soldiers who participated in or witnessed atrocities in Vietnam, including the killing of civilians, including children; mutilation of bodies; indiscriminate razing of villages; throwing prisoners out of helicopters; and other acts of cruelty towards Vietnamese civilians and combatants. Some participants also claimed that these acts reflected orders from higher-up officers. A number of soldiers are quoted stating that their military training failed to include instruction in the terms of the Geneva Convention, while others state that the dangers they faced as soldiers created an environment in which they regarded all Vietnamese as hostile "gooks" and stopped seeing them as human beings.


In testimony by Joseph Bangert, he describes traveling in a "truckload of grunt Marines" when "there were some Vietnamese children at the gateway of the village and they gave the old finger gesture at us. It was understandable that they picked this up from GIs there. They stopped the trucks -- they didn't stop the truck, they slowed down a little bit, and it was just like response, the guys got up, including the lieutenants, and just blew all the kids away. There were about five or six kids blown away, and then the truck just continued down the hill."