chapter  6
Pilgrimage to My Lai
Pages 16

On March 16, 1968, the men of the eleventh brigade entered the village of My Lai, which they called Pinkville, and brutally murdered 504 Vietnamese civilians in a period of four hours. This “search and destroy” mission (General William Westmoreland’s strategy of “flushing out” the Vietcong from their countryside “safe havens”) soon transformed into a bloody massacre: “The killings took place, part maniacally, part methodically, over a period of about four hours,” write Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim in Four Hours in My Lai, their chilling account of what happened on that day.1 Several women were gang raped and killed with unconscionable brutality. Infants were blasted with machine-gun fire. The troops, whose average age was just twenty, were known as Charlie Company. They were under the leadership of Lieutenant William Calley-a name that has become synonymous with the nightmare of the war. He took his orders from Captain Ernest Medina, who received his commands from even higher up; those names still have not been spoken.