A Soldier Comments on How My Lai Affects Today’s Army

This is one of the many interesting comments that have been made about  the post  An Emotional William Calley Says he is SorryI am printing it as a post, not only because it is well written, but because  of the author’s explanation of how he believes My Lai has affected  today’s Army’s efforts to make sure that American soldiers know that incidents like My Lai are “not acceptable and will never be acceptable.”  The comment was written anonymously, but I checked with an Army spokesman at Fort Benning, and he confirmed that such classes are conducted. He says that while it is not required specifically that My Lai be mentioned,  it certainly can be, and it is reasonable to assume that it was in the case of the writer who identifies himself as a soldier. 

First off, I was NOT in Vietnam but I have been to Afghanistan twice now.

The bottom line is this man is showing remorse, whether real or fake, at least he is doing that much. Nothing that he can say or do will ever justify what happened there because it can’t. He is guilty of murder just like everyone else that participated in the massacre, to include his Commanders who were hovering in helicopters watching what was going on. They will have to live with that for the rest of their lives as they have for the last 30+ years.

I would like to put this out as a side note to this article: When Abu Ghraib happened, there was the same (though less) national and international outrage. From that investigation everyone from the Commander of the Prison itself (BG Karpinski) to the Battalion Commander (LTC Jordan) was relieved of command and well investigated for parts in the scandal, not to mention the charges on a slew of other personnel from that unit who were convicted of countless crimes. I do not believe that this kind of response would have been possible if the example of My Lai was not so prevalent in the military mindset.

Before both of my deployments we have had training classes for EVERY soldier about ROE, the Geneva Convention and Ethics in Combat. These were taught by the commanders and officers of the unit and it was made extremely clear to all of the soldiers that My Lai was not acceptable and nothing like it will ever be acceptable. My Lai changed the Army and the world for the better, and it is because of My Lai that most of our soldiers are better educated and more ethical now than they have ever been before.

It was a horrible time for our country and it’s armed forces, no one can say otherwise. Many horrible things happened to our troops over there and a lot of them are still dealing with it, but just the same as if someone had done something like My Lai today, it is WRONG and there is no excuse for it.

Just my $.02

S.S.
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One Response to “A Soldier Comments on How My Lai Affects Today’s Army”

  1. Robert Hoelle Says:

    I served as an Infantryman in Vietnam with the 9th Inf Div & the 1st Cavalry Div 68-69. Personally, I thank God often for the moral restraint and common decency he afforded me in combat. Collateral damage in combat is sometimes unavoidable, murder is always avoidable. Our company commander told us, depending on the circumstances, that an enemy KIA could result in an award, but out and out murder would result in a court martial. I feel that William Calley was a weak leader as was anyone above him that took part in the senseless slaughter at My Lai. I am glad that he apologised, and he should do so directly to the people in My Lai. I hope that he has asked his higher power for forgiveness. I can’t imagine carrying all those murders on my conscience for the remainder of my life. The “following orders” defense doesn’t wash. There wasn’t an officer in Vietnam that could have ordered me to kill civilian women, old men or children. This didn’t set the rules for today’s “rules of engagement”, it was never right and never militarily acceptable.

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