On March 16, 1968, commanding officers of the United States army instructed a group of American troops into the quiet village of Son My, only a kilometer from the coast of Vietnam in Quang Ngai Province. The U.S called the Vietnam Cong village My Lai 4. These men were told to wipe out the village including every man, woman, child, and animal in the village. These orders were followed and the death toll included 500 innocent civilians, mostly women, small children, and old people. There was no threat to any American GIs and there were no Viet Cong Solders in the area. Most of the murders were conducted, by the order of commanding officers, to round up the families from their homes, forced them into ditches, and then they were shot. Women dove to cover their children. Later, children just old enough to walk crawled out from under their mutilated mothers' bodies, only to be shot as target practice by the GIs. .
The officers and GIs who participated in this massacre were officers who had been social outcasts all their lives. The GIs in this group were selected specifically because they had all scored too low on the initial exam to be put into regular battalions. After the massacre, nothing was done. By late 1969, most of the GIs were civilians again, and a few began to tell what they had seen and had a hand in. One day, as the media was delivering their daily recurrences of the horror that was Vietnam, reports of a massacre in a village designated as My Lai 4 came up. Following these reports and some "thorough" investigation came the indictment of Lt. William Calley. A further government investigation was called against Lt. Calley who was in charge of these men and called the order as well as participated in the murders. The overwhelming public response from the American people was to drop the charges. Once word got out to the media about his actions, Calley received loads and loads of letters.