My Lai Massacre: Looking back terrible memories

“That is not true. I can not believe such incident that occurred. Many Americans have had uttered cries when knowing this, but it’s true” – Ronald Haeberle (Army photographer.

War ended for long time. A new generation was born, grew up after the war. The witnesses of the Vietnam war – America are living with their old ages and memories. Vietnam is peace and on way of its development.

Elsewhere, there was seemingly forgotten memory about the war as it has ever happened here. But the Son My village, Quang Ngai, the pain is still intact. The massacre of 504 civilians seemingly just happened yesterday, still standing on the wrinkled faces with fully tears, on the injured hands, and on the memorial plaques here and there  in the village.

“I’m there. I’m one of them. I’m guilty as everyone else”. Army photographer Ron Haeberle said.

When the first newspaper published tragic photos of Ron Haeberle 42 years ago. A savage massacre of civilians, a fact of war in Vietnam, a part of truth about U.S. troops was unfolding gradually.
16/3/1968 early morning, a group of American soldiers landed in the village of My Lai, My Son in an attacking ‘Vietnamese Communist ‘. About 140 U.S. troops, mainly in two platoons Charlie, Bravo under the command of Captain Ernest Medina landed at the same time the village of My Lai, Sơn Mỹ, Binh Tay simultaneously caused a savage massacre to the local people.

Upon landing, the Americans started firing madly into every goal: adults, children and cattles. Within four hours, U.S. forces killed 504 civilians, mostly women, elderly and children. The Army Vietnamese Communists as in fact based  240km away from My Lai.

Lt. William Calley, commander of Charlie and also the most bloodthirsty officer killed more than 300 people in My Lai, Lt. William Calley was ordered ‘killing, burning all what you can see in the village”. After this incident was uncovered, William Calley was the only one testified at military court and took three years of house arrest.


On the fateful morning, Ron Haeberle was on the helicopter to the My Lai. He was carrying two cameras: a black and white film strip for the army, and a Nikon camera of his own color film strip.
How did he hide the U.S. military to carry its own Nikon cameras and the color of film , this camera was in storage until a year later then caused turbulence of debating and discussing among journalists. Ron said very little about this.

When the first photos were published, many Americans do not even dare to believe in the truth. The ‘hero’ U.S. military suddenly become savage killers. A large research of  of U.S. Army crimes and actions was carried out ​​by three months in US.

On 23/10/2011 recently, Ron Haeberle backed to Son My, and visited the old battlefield where the massacre occurred. Same time with him  was Tran Van Duc-oversee Vietnamese, one of the survivors of My Lai. Tran Van Duc is a cause of his trip.

Thanks for your reading.

Hong Duc


About Insiderjourneyguidehelpdesk

Local guide manager-Vietnam
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