My Lai Massacre

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(16 Mar. 1968)

An atrocity of the Vietnam War committed by a US unit commanded by Lieutenant William Calley. After losing substantial numbers of soldiers through Vietcong guerrilla attacks, Calley's unit arrived at the village of My Lai, where they encountered a defenceless village population. Most of the soldiers under Calley's command started to shoot the inhabitants, killing several hundred of them. The massacre came to light in 1970. After a four-month court martial Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment on 29 March 1971, but his superior officer, Captain E. Medina, was acquitted. Calley served a short portion of his sentence before he was pardoned by President Nixon. It remains unclear how exceptional this incident was in the war. The massacre was seized on by the war's opponents to show that the war was morally debasing as well as militarily disastrous.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence — History.

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