Mai Lai incident

The Mai Lai incident

To what extent was the Mai Lai incident which occurred in Vietnam in 1958 a slaughter?


The Mai Lai incident which is often referred to as a slaughter is one of the most controversial incidents in history and different guesss and positions were drawn as to what happened on that fatal twenty-four hours on March 16 1958.


The purpose of this probe is to utilize a scope of beginnings from the clip the incident happened to the present twenty-four hours and reexamine the grounds and analyse the dependability of each grounds and beginning and come to a decision as to whether the Mai Lai incident was a slaughter.The purpose of the probe is to measure whether Mai Lai was a slaughter and to see the different readings given by the informants and to measure the influences on the soldiers and besides look into some of the soldiers background and life before the incident and possibly before the war and the function of theses influences on the soldiers that might hold led to the slaughter, and several eyewitness histories will be reviewed.


To understand what happened on that twenty-four hours what needs to be done is to separately analyse beginnings from the present twenty-four hours and beginnings from the clip the incident happened individually and so enter the grounds.first a twentieth century text book will be consulted as to the general background of the incident so and the grounds collected and summarized so oculus informant histories besides collected so a newspaper from the clip besides consulted so the grounds will be reviewed.

Summary of grounds

Harmonizing to the grounds it would look that between 300 and 500 civilians were killed on that fatal twenty-four hours on March 16 1968 ( 1 ) . Charlie company?s mission was to pass over out the withdrawing NLF military personnels in the crossroadss of Mai Lai and kill any Vietcong they were to meet nevertheless all of the grounds shows there were no NLF troops or Vietcong in the crossroadss during the incident, all of the exposure taken by the ground forces lensmans showed most of the people killed were either adult females, kids or aged people and adding to that no arms were found after the incident ( 2 ) . Naming the slaughter as slaying would be controversial as the leader of Charlie company briefed his soldiers that all the villagers would hold left for the market so any who remained were either NLF or NLF sympathisers, this shows the extent to which the soldiers could warrant their actions and be able to transport them out efficaciously. An oculus informant history of warrant officer one Hugh Thompson Junior. States that he saw 100s of civilians dead and deceasing and that most of them were either adult females and kids or aged work forces ( 3 ) . Other oculus witness histories were derived from members of Charlie company who refused to take part in the slaughter and that were told personally by captain Medina non to expose the narrative and write to congress on the issue, this merely shows the extent to which the culprits tried to cover up the narrative of Mai Lai all thanks to a missive written by Ron Ridenhour. However Charlie company besides found booby traps and mines which shows there was a minimum presence of Vietcong in the country ( 3 ) . It would besides look that the leaders high in the concatenation of bid were responsible for the incident viz. lieutenant Frank barker and Ernst medina since Medina had briefed his company that all the villagers would hold left the market by the clip they arrived therefore all that remained would be VC or NLF sympathisers ( 3 ) . It would besides look that many of the villagers were tortured ; raped and adding to that some of the organic structures were found mutilated. It would look that in the hebdomads that followed up to the slaughter Charlie company had already experient losingss due to mines and dumbbell traps and sniper fire, The whole state of affairs of contending an enemy you can?t see brought the soldiers on border and contributed to their berserk behaviour at Mai Lai. It would besides look that the initial probes that went into Mai Lai treated the Mai Lai incident lightly and did non look to happen mistake in the incident viz. the probe of Ron Ridenhours missive by Collin Powel. However the probes taken subsequently found mistake in most of the company that participated in the violent deaths nevertheless of all the GI?s involved merely one individual was convicted.

1http: // 2http: // ( See appendix 2 ) demoing the type of people that were killed which were largely adult females and kids 3http: // ( see appendix 4 ) aged adult male which was killed during the incident meaning the bulk of dead as aged work forces

Evaluation of beginnings

The beginnings used are from the clip the incident happened therefore doing them dependable. The first beginning used is Ron Ridenhour?s missive to congress which includes oculus informant histories from his friends into what happened at Mai Lai ( 4 ) . The really fact that Ridenhour had personally interviewed the soldiers who were his friends means their reading of what happened at Mai Lai could non hold been altered in any manner due to their trusting of Ron and since Ron was a soldier who was non portion of Charlie company therefore did non take portion in the slaughter doing his missive reliable and indifferent since he would non hold to fear being convicted and since one of the soldiers he interviewed Bernhardt did non take portion in the slaughter which means there is a deficiency of motivation for either Ron or Bernhardt to pull strings the narrative. The beginning came from Ron Ridenhour, a soldier who was friends with the work forces of Charlie company and The missive was written before Ron was to go forth Vietnam and it was meant to denounce the actions of Charlie company in order for something like that non to go on once more, However the missive was written a twelvemonth after the incident happened cut downing its dependability.

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The 2nd beginning used, the equals report originated from a General equals who conducted the probe as to what happened at Mai Lai ( 5 ) , the study came from person who was non straight involved in the incident therefore his reading is non likely to incorporate bias how of all time the concluding study was published 2 old ages after the incident doing its dependability lupus erythematosus. Even though the intent of the study was to look into the incident and its screen up It ended up reprobating the actions of Charlie company and its leader Capt. Medina and since the probe was conducted by an functionary of the us army you would anticipate some of the information to be suppressed for the interest of the us military?s repute nevertheless that was non the instance here since the study found Medina guilty of telling the violent deaths of civilians and the fact that Medina had given the orders shows how the ethical motives of the soldiers were swept aside and that the incident was non a slaughter but a simple instance of put to deathing an operation with the purpose of get the better ofing the enemy.

The 3rd beginning used came from the exposure of an ground forces lensman which shows civilians lying dead with no NLF VC in sight and no arms nowadays and to do affairs worse the exposure show largely dead adult females and kids and old work forces with no service age people in sight, the exposure the lensman took for the us ground forces were mostly censored but most of the exposure he took detailing the violent death of adult females and kids were taken with his personal camera which were non altered or censored by the U.S ground forces.

5http: //, punctually note that the soldiers normally came across more dumbbell traps an mines than the enemy soldiers


The Mai Lai incident established the foundations of wars to come and established regulations and ordinances regulating wars and the issue of orders such as the Medina criterion and besides began the roots of hate of the American soldiers viz. in the in-between E. The Vietnam war was non a war that the Americans were used to since they were used to contending more conventional wars viz. in Europe and the Americas, when it came to Vietnam the Americans had to confront a new physically and psychologically detrimental tactic which was guerrilla warfare, the mean GI?s clip was exhausted contending against snipers and dumbbell traps which psychologically hurt the soldiers, this is was seen as justification on Calley?s portion on the incident declining to name it a slaughter but alternatively preferring to see it as forestalling farther deceases in his military personnels that occurred through snipers and dumbbell traps “ If I have committed a offense, the lone offense I have committed is in judgement of my values. Apparently I valued my military personnels ‘ lives more than I did those of the enemy… ” ( 6 ) the whole state of affairs of holding to cover with an enemy you can non see justified Calleys orders to kill the civilians and the fact that some of the soldiers were wounded by mines and dumbbell traps ( 7 ) ( 8 ) shows that there was a little degree of Vietcong nowadays at the clip nevertheless the fact that there were no arms in the small town dismisses this claim since if the small town was a VC fastness and contained VC battlers you would anticipate to happen arms which shows that the violent deaths were non an effort to salvage American lives but a manner to pacify their defeat in their past failures to shut with the enemy. Cpt. Medina besides claimed that the incident was non a slaughter due to a big figure of the civilians being killed by heavy weapon fire nevertheless the exposure showed that most of the heavy weapon was improbable to do the deceases since the countries they hit were non full of people.

6http: // 7http: // ( see appendix 4 & A ; 5 )


Even though the people who supervised the violent deaths of Mai Lai claimed they were seeking to salvage lives their claim is improbable to be true since the grounds shows the specific types of people killed were non people of service age but old work forces, adult females and kids which shows the extent to which the actions taken by the soldiers were incorrect and depict the incident as a slaughter, The overpowering grounds of exposure and oculus informant histories brings us to the decision that the Mai Lai incident was an unneeded slaughter that included unneeded violent deaths of unarmed civilians. Of the 24 officers accused merely one was convicted and he ended up merely functioning 3 and a half old ages of his sentence even though he was ab initio sentenced to life which merely shows the disdain the American people felt for their soldiers who had to digest such adversities.


Triumph forsaken: The Vietnam war, Mark Moyar

The Mai lai slaughter in American history and memory, Kendrick Oliver

Website URLs

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Appendix 1: Old Women and kids present in Mai Lai during the incident

Appendix 2: Dead adult females and kids that were killed

Appendix 3: Dead adult male and dead kid

Appendix ( 4 ) U.S soldier being comforted after puting off a dumbbell trap

Appendix ( 5 ) Booby trap of the Vietnam war epoch that soldiers normally came across during the war, normally coming across these dumbbell traps was more frequent than coming across enemy soldiers