On March 16, 1968 the angry and frustrated men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division entered the village of My Lai. The objective of the American military mission was clear: search and destroy the My Lai hamlet of Son My village in the Quang Ngai Province of South Vietnam. The unit of the U.S. army Americal division, led by Lt. William L. Calley, invaded the South Vietnamese hamlet, an alleged Viet Cong stronghold. In the course of combat operations, unarmed civilians, including women and children, were shot to death. The final army estimate for the number killed was 347. .
Lt. William Calley was a ruthless barbarian. He ordered his men to get as many civilians as possible and throw them into a ditch. He then ordered them to shoot into the ditch. He burned the town, and murdered vigorously. A Huey pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh C. Thompson, witnessed the shootings. He tried to save the victims; but Valley pulled rank and intervened. Though there was over 300 Vietnamese slaughtered, there had only been one American casualty. A black GI "accidentally" shot himself in the foot. It was later found out that he, at the time, was on cocaine and just wanted to get out of My Lai. He was then later quoted as saying that " [he] shot himself purposely to get out of there." .
The cover up for what happened at My Lai began on the day of the killings. Calley's soldiers who did not participate in the slaughter and the vast majority of Charlie Company who did not kill any civilians were so frightened and shocked by what they saw, they literally lost all sense of reason. It is important to remember that no single person who was present that day at My Lai knew the totality of what happened, not even Calley. For the better part of the morning, the squads were separate from each other and out of sight of one another. Some killings took place inside the huts or in the bush where no one could see. Some soldiers saw only a few killings; others saw many.