Mrs Thi Tuyet Do lives in Pleiku. She and her family were pulled out by U.S. soldiers and ordered to sit in front of the house before being instructed to enter the ditch. Of the 170 people, most in the line of fire were women and children. Many of them were killed, but you survived if you were covered by the other bodies.
Mr. Dat Pham testified that his wife was shot and injured, while a seven month-old child crawled out of a burning house and wandered towards the ditch; the child was shot by U.S. soldiers, covered in dry leaves, and burned.
Ms. Truong Thi Le lived because she lay quiet underneath two dead bodies and pretended to be dead.
Ha Thi Qui is now 83 years old and was wounded in the hip and lay there quietly, also underneath corpses. She later attempted to crawl home. On the way, she saw many injured persons and bodies of women, some of whom had been raped by U.S. soldiers and then shot.
I saw Mrs. Pham Thi Trinh, then 11 years old try to crawl out of the ditch to the top, just like Mrs. Pham Thi Muoi, whom was only 14 years old when she was found next to a house, raped and shot dead by a U.S. soldier.
A mother and 7 month old child were covered in dry leaves and set alight by U.S. soldiers.
The house of Mr Le contained 15 hidden people who were found and thrown in the trenches. Nobody was spared.
Ms. Trinh’s eight year-old daughter was shot by U.S. soldiers when attempting to escape a ditch while carrying a mouthful of rice.
Mr Tấn Huyen Tran, from Khe Thuan village, said that his grandparents, his parents, and child were shot dead by U.S. soldiers.
Many people from the international press have come with their camera crews to film stories about My Lai in the past. Authorities paid members of the press to stay about 800 yards away from areas where the poorest survivors and their families lived, to discourage any contact and prevent details being released. Film director Oliver Stone worked in Pinkville with an interpreter, dealing with the press to obtain details for making his film. But our testimony and history has been ignored. My family received no help from the community or the state. After Vietnam became a united country, I learned that my mother’s tombstone had been issued with the wrong date of birth and even worse, the incorrect picture. When I raised this with house memorial officials, they did not take up my complaints further. Perhaps my stories of a handful of cold rice and going numerous days without food in my childhood interfered with their seemingly lavish lifestyle.
For any of the 130 American soldiers involved in the massacre, people such as Ernest Medina, William Calley, Oran K. Henderson, Samuel W. Koster, Eugene Kotouče, have you considered what impact your actions had on the children who lost their parents? Some of these children are now adults and they still live with the nightmares of being dragged out of their huts, being thrown into ditches, and watching machine guns and grenades slaughter their family members. After 42 years, you still have not come back to seek redemption. What did the innocent people of Son My and the surrounding hamlets do wrong to deserve being killed? How many screaming children can you recall crawling or lying on the ground in a puddle of blood? When you opened fire, mothers were breastfeeding children. Elderly village women and defenceless and unarmed men died with frightened looks in their eyes. People that we respected and paid reverence to, you spat in their faces. You raped teenage girls and young women. Before committing your evil deeds, your units slowly encircled us, preventing any chance of escape.
Maybe you do not care, in which case, an apology is useless.
However, there were some soldiers who showed compassion and I would publicly like to thank them. These people include Mr. Ronald Haeberle, who took a photo of my mother and other images from his helicopter. These include the two pictures of the four young children he photographed before they were shot by U.S. soldiers, and another of two children lying on the street. The people of Son My remember him very fondly for his actions to prevent further loss of life. I also pay my respects to Hugh Thompson, who landed his helicopter to rescue an eight-year old child and take her to a hospital after receiving a radio call from Glenn Andreotta. Larry Colburn, Ron Ridenhour, Seymour Hersh (the investigative journalist who exposed the My Lai Massacre to the world in 1969) and William R. Peers all tried to tell the world exactly what took place, but were silenced by the U.S. government.
Although I now reside in Germany, I am speaking up on behalf of the residents who continue to live in My Lai and remain committed to seeing justice prevail for the deceased and survivors.
Tran Van Duc has told Foreign Policy Journal that in his recent visit to My Lai in July and August, he contacted senior officials in Quang Ngai Province. These include the Police Director of Quang Ngai Province, Mr. Le Xuan Hoa, Province Chairman, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hue, and the Director of Sports Culture and Tourism, Nguyen Dang Vu. According to Mr. Tran, Mr. Nguyen Dang Vu has “promised to repair the reporting of false information about my family.”
On August 13, 2010, Tran Van Duc emailed Foreign Policy Journal, stating that in a meeting four days earlier, the Quang Ngai Provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism expressed their condolences for the suffering endured by the Tran family as a result of the My Lai Massacre, and would work to change any incorrect the details regarding the identification of Tran Van Duc’s mother.
Foreign Policy Journal has also learned courtesy of an email dated August 30 that Mr. Tran wrote to Vietnam veteran Mike Boehm dated August 30. In the email, Mr. Tran says that he has removed an inscription as part of “An American Peace”, denoting the remains of his mother and two sisters killed on the day of the massacre, along with 72 other civilians.
Mr. Boehm, who has spearheaded a number of community initiaives in Vietnam through the Madison Quakers Inc., told Foreign Policy Journal that he assumed Mr. Tran “is referring to our of our humanitarian projects when he is writing about ‘An American Peace’”. He said that Madison Quakers Inc. has funded a number of projects in My Lai and Quang Ngai Province, including the construction of four primary schools, the establishment of the My Lai Loan Fund for women to start small businesses and the My Lai Peace Park.
Mr. Boehm said that he “heard of, but not visited” any plaques commemorating the tragedy in My Lai.
“For more than 42 years media writing or filming about My Lai concentrate on the massacre. My organization is focused on helping those still living,” Mr. Boehm said.
Comment was being sought from the Quang Ngai Provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism.
For verification of the ages of the fallen victims of Mr. Tran’s family, a formal request for an official list of the victims in the My Lai Massacre was sent to the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Canberra, Australia, on September 2, 2010. For the purpose of this document, a list of the names of the 504 people killed has been obtained from the following source:
The webpage attributes the document as being supplied by the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington DC, based on a request by Trent Angers, author of The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story. According to the publication, the names and ages of the deceased are listed as follows:
Nguyen Thi Tau, (mother), 32 years old
Tran Thi Hong, (sister), 11 years old
Tran Thi Hue, (sister), 5 years old.