On March 16, 1968, two platoons of American soldiers arrived at the hamlet ofMy Lai, in the district known as Son My in what was then South Vietnam. The men were from Charlie Company of the First Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division, and they were on a search-and-destroy mission. They entered the village around 8 in the morning. Several hours later, between 300 and 500 villagers lay dead.
Just how the massacre started has never been precisely determined, but the details were horrific. Eyewitnesses described bayonetings, clubbings, and close-range shootings, all without a single shot being fired at the Americans. Many of the dead were women, children, and the elderly. Some were killed while kneeling in prayer. Some were found with “C Company” carved into their flesh. The men of Charlie Company had been in Vietnam all of three months.
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