Newsweeks Past: The Killings at My Lai

My Lai
Civilians killed in My Lai on 8th December 1969 Newsweek

The massacre of between 347 and 504 Vietnamese civilians by US army soldiers, during the final years of the Vietnam war, provoked global outrage. The war reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of the atrocities orchestrated by platoon leader William L Calley Jr and his men on the Associated Press wire service, and the newspapers soon followed.

Newsweek’s report quoted a young soldier, Paul David Meadlo, who had rounded up 45 people in the centre of the village of My Lai: “‘Lieutenant Calley,’ he recalled, ‘came over and said, ‘You know what to do with them, don’t you?’ So I took it for granted that he just wanted us to watch them. He came back about 10 or 15 minutes later and said, ‘How come you ain’t killed them yet?’ Whereupon, he and Calley shot the civilians with their M-16 rifles. Later, he said, “We had about seven or eight people that we was gonna put into the hootch [hut], and we dropped a hand grenade in there with them.’” Calley served just three and a half years under house arrest.