On March 16, 1968, U.S. soldiers entered the village of My Lai in northern South Vietnam. The soldiers had been searching for threats within the village, but soon determined that the women, children and elders living there, were not dangerous. ‘But rather than move on, the soldiers abruptly went on a murderous killing spree, massacring between 300 and 500 unarmed villagers over a period of several hours’ (Russell 703).
Innocent unarmed people were murdered that day, with no means of protecting themselves. Hundreds of innocent people were slaughtered, “In terms of numbers of slain, the My Lai Massacre is by far the worst known U.S. atrocity case of the Vietnam War” (Cook and Martin 217). Not only did the soldiers murder hundreds of innocent people, but they also tortured them and forced them to suffer: During this time, the soldiers torched houses, raped dozens of women and children, and shot or stabbed terrified villagers who tried to escape. The American troops executed most of the villagers by lining them up in ditches and shooting them in heavy bursts of rifle fire (Hillstrom and Hillstrom 212). These inhumane actions taken by the U.S. forces in My Lai, are one of the main reasons that the My Lai Massacre is known to be the worst atrocity that occurred during the Vietnam War. This event was not only sick and cruel, but could also represent everything that was wrong with the Vietnam War. Ronald L. Haeberle was a photographer for the United States Army, and unfortunately, had a firsthand experience of witnessing the spiteful execution of these innocent people at My Lai. “Haeberle said that no Viet Cong were sighted nor were there any reports of Viet Cong fire in the village” (Cook and Martin 217). There was clear evidence that shows that no Viet Cong or even armed people were present when this massacre took place. “U.S. forces, Haeberle related, mechanically killed the civilians, some in their beds in huts. The murders were carried out; he said, with M-16 rifles and machine guns” (Cook and Martin 217). Not only were these people killed, but they were humiliated and treated much less than a person. It was much more than soldiers doing their duties, it was inhumane and unethical.
“He said he saw as many as 30 American soldiers’ murder as many as 100 South Vietnamese civilians, many of them women or babies, many left in lifeless clumps. He describes the soldiers who did the shooting as ‘intent on what they were trying to accomplish. There was no feeling, nothing human about it. It was, for the most part, grim, though later some of the men tried to be humorous about leaving the bodies for the dogs and the rats’” (Cook and Martin 219). Soldiers recklessly lost control of themselves and took out all of their anger on the lives of these unarmed, innocent women, children and elders. GI’s forced these people to not only die, but to suffer as well. “‘The GI’s found a group of people- mothers, children, and their daughters. This GI grabbed one of the girls, in her teens, and started stripping her, playing around. They said they wanted to see what she was made of and stuff like that’” (Cook and Martin 219). It was obvious that the U.S. soldiers acted excessively violent and took out all of their anger on innocent