Interview of 5 American soldiers who took part in or were witnesses to the 1968 My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. The names of the young men, in order of appearance, are:
James Bergthoud of Niagara Falls, NY.
Gary Garfolo, Stockton, CA
Garry Crossly, Del Rio, Texas
Vernardo Simpson, Jackson, Mississippi, 1948-1997. The details of this 1971 NYT article are gruesome and degrading of the human soul. It’s a testament to the powers of military training–that you can take anybody, any kid, train him to kill, and voila, he becomes a master at killing. They perform better than expected.
Michael Bernard, Tarpon Springs, Florida
In his Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire Building, 1980, Richard Drinnon describes Gary Garfolo as “the unemployed white son of a barber from Stockton, California.”
The above documentary, titled “Interviews with My Lai Veterans,” was produced in 1971 by Joseph Strick for which he also won the Oscar that year for the Best Documentary (Short Subject).
1. My Lai: Vietnam, 1969, and the Descent into Darkness, Howard Jones, 2017.
2. On Killing: The Psychological Costs of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Dave Grossman, 2009.
3. Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Nick Turse, 2013.
In 2018, Ann Wright explains the casualties of that massacre:
We know what the U.S. Army soldiers did 50 years ago. In what is now called the My Lai massacre, U.S. soldiers executed 182 women including 17 pregnant women and raped many of them before they were killed. They murdered 173 children, 68 of whom were five years old or younger and they executed 89 middle-aged persons and 60 persons over the age of 60, some of whom were burned alive, tortured, gang-raped, scalped and had their tongues cut out during the rampage of the U.S. Army soldiers.
For more on Colin Powell’s role in the My Lai Massacre be sure to read “Colin Powell’s Legend [with 1968] My Lai Massacre.” Robert Parry and Norman Solomon, 1996.
In view of Calley’s recent remorse and the Times editorial, we are republishing below a part of a series on Powell’s real record that I co-authored with Norman Solomon in 1996. The story deals with Powell’s two tours in Vietnam. (For more details on Powell’s biography, see the book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush: Robert Parry, Sam Parry, and Nat Parry, 2007).
“The Real Colin Powell,” Robert Parry, 2007.
Check out Lieutenant Calley’s testimony on page 456 here. He admits what I claimed that the boys in Vietnam were spellbound by anti-communist fervor. Under the hypnotism of ideology, they were prepared to do almost anything.
“The My Lai Massacre,” Seymour M. Hersh, January 14, 1972. Didn’t realize that he was the first one to report on the massacre.
Here is the 1989 video documentary, “Four Hours in My Lai: Anatomy of a Massacre.”
At the 46:37 mark, Michael Bernard of Tarpon Springs, Florida says, “Courage was seen as stupidity. Cowardice was cunning and wariness. Cruelty and brutality [were] sometimes seen as heroic.” 46:46
Here is the government report that followed the investigation of the massacre on March 16, 1968, in Pinkville, aka, My Lai.
These photos were taken by Army photographer, Ron Haeberle. The caption at Photo #7 reads “Haeberle admitted he had destroyed more graphic photos of My Lai.”
REMORSEFUL MONSTERS WHO WERE “JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS”
1. Vernardo Simpson of Jackson, Mississippi, 1948-1997.
HEROES AT MY LAI
A pilot named Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr. from Stone Mountain, Ga. was furious at the killings he saw happening on the ground. He landed his helicopter between one group of fleeing civilians and American soldiers in pursuit. Thompson ordered his helicopter door gunner to shoot the Americans if they tried to harm the Vietnamese. After a tense confrontation, the soldiers backed off. Later, two of Thompson’s men climbed into one ditch filled with corpses and pulled out a three-year-old boy whom they flew to safety.
Ron Ridenhour. “Powell’s findings, of course, were false. But it would take another Americal hero, an infantryman named Ron Ridenhour (1946-1998), to piece together the truth about the atrocity at My Lai. After returning to the United States, Ridenhour interviewed Americal comrades who had participated in the massacre.
On his own, Ridenhour compiled this shocking information into a report and forwarded it to the Army inspector general. The IG’s office conducted an aggressive official investigation and the Army finally faced the horrible truth. Court-martials were held against officers and enlisted men implicated in the murder of the My Lai civilians.” Ridenhour’s essay is titled “Jesus Was a Gook,” 1994.