My Lai

There are some stories on Vietnam war and My Lai is one of the vestiges left. The destruction of an entire village by Lieutenant Calley's men is probably the best documented military atrocity on record. The massacre occurred on 16 April 1968, and 504 women, old men, children and babies were mindlessly slaughtered by Company with almost no resistance.

The hamlet of My Lai was part of the village of Son My, and the memorial gardens and remains of the hamlet can be found in Son My village. The museum here, with photos depicting the series of events on this horrific day. The atrocities occurred over different sites within a two or three square kilometers area. Walking among the fields, you occasionally come across a memorial plaque indicating the number of people that died on that spot. Lieutenant Calley was later court martialled and sentenced to life, but only served three of those years. Following the US Supreme Court’s refusal to hear his case, Calley was paroled. My Lai is about 15 km North of Quang Ngai and could be a day trip there while staying in Danang or Hoi An.My Lai

My Lai History

On March 16, 1968, a group of U.S. soldiers attacked the South Vietnamese village of My Lai, believed to be a Communist stronghold, and killed between 175 and 400 civilians as well as committing rape and other crimes. U.S. helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson and two crewmen, who were flying a reconnaissance mission over My Lai, saw the dead bodies and stopped to investigate. In the process, they managed to rescue a group of Vietnamese civilians from American troops. Although Thompson reported the incident to his superiors, the American public didnt learn about it until over a year later, after a former soldier named Ronald L. Ridenhour wrote letters about what happened at My Lai to President Richard Nixon and other government officials. Ridenhour had found out about the events a month after they occurred from soldiers who were there.

The Army eventually launched an investigation that led to the conviction of platoon leader Lt. William L. Calley, Jr., for the murder of 22 unarmed men, women and children. In 1971, Calley was sentenced to life in prison, which was later reduced to 10 years. Ultimately, he served three years under house arrest.


Definitely worth a visit. Some say that this massacre was a turning point in the war. The documentary at the beginning of the visit where Hugh Thompson (helicopter pilot during the massacre who tried to his best effort to protect the civilians) describes the atrocities of war adds to the lessons of history on this site. Walk here in silence and try to comprehend what happened here and think how this could have been prevented. A powerful place which provides food for thought on how to prevent this in future conflicts, in whichever country. This is a very important site to visit, it should be a lesson to everyone (sadly the world has not learnt from the My Lai tragedy –as such incidents still take place in War) and you should come here not as a tourist to ogle at the past but in memory of what did happen and to pay respects

My Lai

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