America’s Massacres: No Gun Ri, Tiger Force, Mỹ Lai, Highway of Death, Iraq and Afghanistan

Saturday marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the Mỹ Lai massacre, a powerful reminder of the evil of war
There are incomprehensible massacres that take place in every war by those engaged in them. The United States is not an exception, and Americans need to be shaken up to the reality of America’s wars and their consequences. Regrettably, there is always an attempt at whitewashing these crimes, only brought to light when those who participate in or witness them courageously report them. Concealment keeps Americans in the dark, but when we learn of them we simply cannot ascribe such acts to the “fog of war” or accept them by saying there are always innocent people killed in war, as if such acts are inevitable and should be overlooked. Americans should lend an unequivocal voice in opposition to them and advocate an end to war. The massacres committed during the Gulf War and Vietnam War are the most horrific since World War II -- particularly the savage cruelty of the U.S. Army’s Tiger Force platoon in Vietnam, and Charley Company platoon at Mỹ Lai. During the Korean War, on orders of commanders, American soldiers killed refugees at No Gun Ri and other localities in South Korea. Even when Americans did not directly participate, U.S. commanders condoned mass executions by the South Korean Army. Over a seven-month period in1967, Tiger Force platoon killed and mutilated hundreds of unarmed Vietnam villagers. They killed women and children by dropping grenades into bunkers where they were hiding. They shot farmers working in fields. “Prisoners were tortured and executed -- their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings. Platoon members strung the ears on shoe laces to wear around their necks.” On Saturday March 16, 1968, at around 7:30 a.m., all hell broke loose for the little hamlet of Mỹ Lai in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Suspected of harboring the Viet Cong, Mỹ Lai became a "free-fire zone." Following a bombardment of artillery rounds, and strafing by Huey Cobra attack helicopters, two platoons from Charlie Company led by Second Lieutenant William Calley entered the hamlet firing at anything that moved, including women and children. They set

fire to huts, killed animals, and poisoned water supplies. They raped women, clubbed and stabbed villagers, and executed groups of villagers and families. They carved some victims in the chest with a “C,” as if signing off for Charlie Company. In testimony a soldier admitted, "I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I lost all sense of direction." If it were not for the extraordinary courage of a helicopter pilot, Hugh Thompson, more lives would have been loss by the savagery of Charlie Company. Thompson, after his crew witnessed soldiers executing people in a ditch and observed troops advancing on a Vietnamese family, landed his helicopter and rescued them from slaughter. In 1991, as the Gulf War was coming to an end, American forces attacked Iraqi forces and civilians who were in retreat on Basra road making a beeline for Iraq. American fighter aircraft strafed and used napalm “that produced horrific casualties such as the ‘crispy critter’ … a revolting Americanism to describe an Iraqi tank commander burned alive.” News reports referred to the road as the “Highway of Death.” In Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005, U.S. Marines killed 24 Iraqis including children between the ages of 3 and 15. The Marines, based on some news reporting, called Haditha their Mỹ Lai. In Afghanistan, there was the infamous “kill team.” And a look back at U.S. behavior should not give anyone reason not to believe that Afghan President Hamid Karzai may have had creditable reason for giving U.S. special forces two weeks to leave Wardak province after some U.S. soldiers there were found to have tortured and killed innocent people. Sources: Pulitzer, Killing Korean Refugees Investigative Reporting: Works Article in a Series: 2000, pulitzer.org Associated Press, U.S. Okayed Korean War Massacres, The Raw Story Pulitzer, Tiger Force Platoon Investigative Reporting: Blade, Works Article in a Series, 2004, pulitzer.org National Public Radio, My Lai Pilot Hugh Thompson, NPR.org

Michael S. Schmidt, Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq, The New Your Times Hamid Shalizi and Dylan Welch, Afghan president to expel U.S. special forces from key province, Reuters

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