From Amy Goodman - DEMOCRACYNOW
Well, what happened is they—this is a unit—look, the analogy with Iraq is pretty acute. Basically, it's a group of soldiers that landed. They were mostly uneducated high school graduates and dropouts who were told they were fighting communism, going to save America. They got to Vietnam. They spent ten, eleven weeks in the—you know, humping it in the boonies and in the villages and paddies of South Vietnam and never saw the enemy. Maybe they lost 15 or 20 percent of their company through snipers, land mines, etc., but they never engaged. And over the period of ten, eleven, twelve weeks, between the period they landed around New Year's Day of '68 until March 16th, they became increasingly brutal, so randomly going through a village and whacking people, sometimes an old man they saw. One soldier would just hit him with a rifle butt, and nobody said anything, because what happens inevitably is when you don't see an organized enemy and you lose people, you lose your buddies and your mates, and you're angry, you take it out on the villagers, you take it out on the civilian population, as you were just hearing, as we were all listening this morning to the testimony.
And so, one night they were told—the kids were told, "Tomorrow, you're going to meet the enemy. The North Vietnamese—a regular North Vietnamese battalion is going to be there, and you'll get a chance to get payback." And the kids did then what they did then: the young soldiers toked it up, and the senior enlisted men and the officers drank it up. But they all got up at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, jumped on choppers and went to kill and be killed—you have to give them their due. And they got into the village, and there's no soldiers there. The intelligence was bad, as it always is. And they gathered people. There was no fire at all, really, just old women, men and children making their—heating up water for their morning rice. And they gathered them eventually into three large ditches and began to execute them.
My Lai Massacre 1968 Remembered: with Seymour Hersh part 1