On 16 March, 1968, in the hamlet of My Lai, Vietnam, U.S. soldiers of C Company 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, killed hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children. The massacre prompted widespread outrage around the world and reduced American support at home for the war in Vietnam. Lt William Calley, the unit's platoon leader, was charged with several counts of premeditated murder in September 1969.
Other officers and enlisted men were later charged with related crimes. Lt Calley alleged that he and his men had been ordered to commit the massacre by their Company Commander, Captain Ernest Medina.
Lt Calley was convicted in 1971 of premeditated murder in ordering the shootings and initially sentenced to life in prison. However, two days later President Richard Nixon ordered him released from prison, pending appeal of his sentence. Lt Calley served 3 1/2 years of house arrest in his quarters at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was then ordered freed by a federal judge.
Captain Medina was acquitted of any wrongdoing during a highly publicized trial. Medina by Mary McCarthy, published in 1972, provides a powerful account of the ultimately successful denial and cover-up by the military and gov't at the trial of U.S. v. Medina.
Now, in Kill Anything that Moves, Nick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth. Meticulously piecing together newly released classified information, court-martial records, Pentagon reports, and firsthand interviews in Vietnam and the United States, as well as contemporaneous press accounts and secondary literature, Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity, unfolding, year after year, throughout that country.