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My Lai Massacre


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 09:09 AM

Was Richard Nixon right to commute William Calley's sentence to three years' house arrest?

BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.u...fic/8215556.stm

The US army officer convicted for his part in the notorious My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War has offered his first public apology, a US report says.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened," Lt William Calley was quoted as saying by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

He was addressing a small group at a community club in Columbus, Georgia.

Calley, 66, was convicted on 22 counts of murder for the 1968 massacre of 500 men, women and children in Vietnam.


"I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry," the former US platoon commander said on Wednesday.

Bodies of women and children lie in the road leading to the village of My Lai, following the massacre
The My Lai massacre was a turning point in the Vietnam War

He was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings in 1971. Then-US President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to three years' house arrest.

But Calley insisted that he was only following orders, the paper reported.

He broke his silence after accepting a friend's invitation to speak at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club, a US-based global voluntary organisation.

At the time of the killings, the US soldiers had been on a "search and destroy" mission to root out communist fighters in what was fertile Viet Cong territory.

Although the enemy was nowhere to be seen, the US soldiers of Charlie Company rounded up unarmed civilians and gunned them down.

When the story of My Lai was exposed, more than a year later, it tarnished the name of the US army and proved to be a turning point for public opinion about the Vietnam War.

#2 Gene Kelly

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:06 AM

John/Peter:
My study of My Lai tells me that it was part of CIA's "Phoenix" program, and these young, inexperienced and undisciplined soldiers of C company were used by their intelligence handlers to terrorize (and massacre) a village of women, children and old men. I believe there were many other such atrocities, perhaps not as large or infamous. Only for an ethical helicopter pilot, an allegation sent in form of a letter a year later, and the publishing of Ron Haberle's private photographs... this war crime would never have seen the light of day. None of the officers above Calley were punished (although a few received some minor discipline/demotions) nor were any of them held accountable. There were many plausible excuses (revenge, inexperience, confusion about free-fire zones, over-emphasis on body counts, dehumanizing the enemy, etc.) and the official Army investigation by General William Peers (ex-OSS, CIA) sounded hard-hitting but never once mentioned the Project Phoenix angle and carefully avoiding implication of CIA. Col Frank Barker, who headed the special task Force that C company was part of, is never mentioned in any of the indictments or criminal charges... yet he was fully aware of the bogus intelligence that sent Charley Company into My Lai "loaded for bear" (i.e. villagers would be gone, only VC remaining, 48th Battalion stronghold, etc.). Calley's sentence was reduced and commuted- none of the soldiers would testify against him (or the officers) - and he simply served a few years of house arrest, becoming a darling of the pro-war hawkish right. Even today, we know little of the full story or real driving forces. Ironically, two months ago, William Calley made a rare public appearance and offered an apology (similar to Ted Kennedy's remorse ( "...not a day goes by that I don't regret..."). Interestingly, one of the My Lai soldiers who testified on Calley's boss's behalf (Capt Medina) was none other than our own Gerald Hemming. My Lai was a Phoenix operation... I wonder if Morales and friends - true forces of evil - had a hand in the war crime?

Gene

#3 John Simkin

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:40 AM

Thank you for posting this article Peter.

John/Peter:
My study of My Lai tells me that it was part of CIA's "Phoenix" program, and these young, inexperienced and undisciplined soldiers of C company were used by their intelligence handlers to terrorize (and massacre) a village of women, children and old men.....

Interestingly, one of the My Lai soldiers who testified on Calley's boss's behalf (Capt Medina) was none other than our own Gerald Hemming. My Lai was a Phoenix operation... I wonder if Morales and friends - true forces of evil - had a hand in the war crime?

Gene


Gene, have you published this study anywhere?

Fascinating information about Gerry Hemming.

#4 Gene Kelly

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:16 PM

John:
Its just an informal paper that I cobbled together, from Internet articles and pictures. Its a word document that - if you're interested - I can forward separately to your email. It consists of some trial records, and some witness accounts.... its not an original writing, but rather bits and pieces lifted from existing articles, a compilation if you will. Things that I found interesting reading. In one of the accounts of Captain Ernest Medina's trial, I came across commentary from a witness who turned out to be Gerry Hemming... sounds like he was blowing smoke up the prosecutors butt, and if I were of a conspiratorial bent, i'd think he was a deliberate plant to make Captain Medina sound innocent (which he appears most certainly not).

Gene

#5 Gene Kelly

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 08:23 PM

John:
Many Americans (at that time) thought that LT Calley was a ‘scapegoat’, and the majority disagreed with his indictment and conviction. In the end, a few officers got demotions, no one did any jail time, and the country quickly forgot about the massacre… to quote one of the reporters/analysts, it was “just another day in the War”. The incident further polarized the nation – mostly against the unpopular war – and led to severe mistreatment of returning soldiers (e.g. anti-war and young people started calling the Vietnam veterans “baby killers” and spitting on them in public). Post-traumatic syndrome became a household term for veterans, and veterans suffered mental and guilt anxiety. Much of this was a direct result of My Lai.

On a more philosophical (and conspiratorial) point, I think the real causes for My Lai were never publicly aired or published. I also think its much more complicated than some of the advertised reasons retrospectively offered such as: (1) Calley’s incompetence/inexperience; (2) confusion about ‘Fire-free Zones’ and rules of engagement; (3) a part-time/shift work platoon of “Charley Company” high school dropouts; (4) revenge for recent losses (snipers, booby traps etc) and the Tet offensive; (5) ‘de-humanizing’ the VC and regarding the enemy as less than human (i.e. gooks); (6) the ‘collective psychological breakdown of Charley Company’; (7) lack of training regarding Geneva Convention and battlefield ethics (i.e. what does a soldier do when he’s give an unlawful order?); (8) over-emphasis on body counts and how the war was strategically conducted (e.g. excessive shelling, bombs, napalm, destruction of villages, etc); and (9) finally (most important, in my mind) the idea that we were in a different kind of war – one that the enemy was fighting “below the belt” in a unique and unfair way – with enemy tactics that “clutched the people close to their vest. That last point is most telling. The VC ‘hid’ amongst the villages and common folk. Our soldiers had to fight an enemy that was ‘disguised’ among the civilians. The VC also used children and women to ‘fool’ the Americans into booby traps, as snipers, and to throw grenades. Its no wonder they mistrusted ‘civilians’ and at times attacked them as the enemy. This was unconventional, and yet part of the VC tactics... so, CIA/Phoenix was intended to "fight fire with fire"... bring death/destruction (via search/destroy) to the enemy.

Notwithstanding all of the above reasons for the behavior of C company that day, I think the real driving force behind this atrocity was CIA and their ‘Phoenix’ program. That’s why we never heard what really happened for years, and that’s why they didn’t prosecute any officers or top brass. So, in that respect, LT Calley can be viewed as an immoral scapegoat, along with all of those young GI’s in C company... they were used by the CIA and politicians.

Gene

#6 Gene Kelly

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 09:55 PM

Here's an excerpt from the September 1971 trial of Captain Ernest Medina... one of the witnesses for the prosecution was Gerry Hemming (spelled wrong here) who was a "demolition man" who had apparently 'volunteered' for the My Lai mission one day before the attack, and was a participant in the massacre. It appears that he discredited himself (perhaps intentionally) by admitting to excessive wine use and alluding to drugs, when challenged by defense attorney F. Lee Bailey. There are other witnesses (for the prosecution) that either perjured themselves, took the "fifth", or otherwise were afraid to testify. It seems to me that Hemming was a 'plant' to discredit the prosecution, pretending to be an eyewitness who would testify against capt. Medina, when in fact he was weakening their case by coming across as unreliable and of questionable stability. His involvement in this infamous war crime is very telling...

"Judge Howard said that he would decide tomorrow whether Mr. Widmer should be ordered to testify. Gerald Heming, a former demolition man and Captain Medina’s command group, said that he saw an officer step from a helicopter at Mylai and warned Captain Medina, “These shootings got to stop.” He said that he thought the officer who dismounted from the helicopter was Col. Oran K. Henderson, then commander of the 11th Brigade, American Division, and now on trial at Fort Meads, Md., for covering up the Mylai slayings.

When the witness insisted that the officer had been wearing a major’s insigne, a gold leaf, Mr. Bailey pointed out that Colonel Henderson was already a colonel at the time of the incident. Mr. Bailey also brought out that Mr. Heming had told an Army investigator that because of the helicopter noise he wasn’t sure that he had heard the conversation between Captain Medina and Colonel “Henderson.”

“Does it mean anything to you when you make a sworn statement?” Mr. Bailey asked. “No,” the witness replied.

Mr. Heming admitted to a taste for wine and said that he had consumed four quarts on the eve of his appearance. “I do that every day,” he said.

“You been blowing a little LSD?” Mr. Bailey asked? “I wish I could,” Mr. Heming said. “Then maybe I could forget the whole thing.”

#7 David Andrews

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 12:12 AM

GPH at My Lai and the trial! Whoever called him "the Homer of the Kennedy assassination" got it wrong: Odysseus!

#8 David Andrews

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 12:56 AM

Oh, God! Could there be another one? And hooked in with F. Lee Bailey? He's better than a James Ellroy character...

Edited by David Andrews, 25 November 2009 - 01:02 AM.


#9 Gene Kelly

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 11:44 AM

There were two trial references that mentioned his name, plus a book, although the spelling was off a bit. It sounds so much like him... irreverent, swashbuckling, cocky and colorful. Comes through the page as enjoying the controversy, putting himself in the limelight. The nickname they used for him was "Hotrod", if that's any clue. Claimed to be a 'demolition' man. He was blowing smoke up the prosecutor's butt during the cross-examination. What I found intriguing (and a bit sinister) is that - according to the book - he 'volunteered' for the My Lai mission (a search and destroy task) only the day before. It sure paints a picture that fits his soldier of fortune profile. There were infamous CIA "tiger teams" rumored to be carrying out Project Phoenix executions and grab/snatch operations... maybe he was a participant.

#10 Len Colby

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 08:40 PM

Gene did the transcript indicate his age, rank, dob or any other personal info? Hemming had served with the USMC while Heming was presumably army. I couldn't find any mention of "mm" being in the Army or Vietnam or being involved it the Media trial here:

http://www.latinamer...org/hemming.htm

#11 Gene Kelly

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 06:39 PM

Len:
One reference (for a BBC documentary) lists witnesses called during the trial, including a “Jerry LeMar Heming”, and Calvin Louis Hawkins C Company, 26th Engineer Bn, both demolition experts. This is obviously not Gerry P. Hemming, but my conspiratorial imagination tells me it could’ve been an alias for the ex-marine mercenary. The action and Phoenix implications sure fit the bill for his kind of work.

There’s also another book (“Light at the End of the Tunnel” by Bilton and Sim; Chapter 24) which indicated that Jerry “Hotrod’ Heming’ joined the Charley Company mission as a ‘volunteer’ just the day before the massacre, as part of a contingent (including military intelligence officers, interpreters, and photographers) temporarily assigned for the ‘Pinkville’ attack. While the spelling is different, and I can’t tell if ‘Heming’ was Army or Marines, the name jumped out at me. It seems a strange ‘coincidence’ that demolition soldiers would ‘volunteer’ for a search/destroy mission, especially in a “hot” VC zone such as My Lai where CIA Phoenix operations were being conducted. In fact, my study of the My Lai facts strongly suggests that it was precisely that... a Phoenix terror operation. So I’m naturally suspect of ‘volunteers’ for such atrocities.

The trial excerpts are found on a website for the law office of Gary Myers & Associates. He is a former JAG Officer, and experienced civilian military defense attorney, involved in My Lai, Abu Ghraib, and Haditha affairs. Here’s the excerpt from ‘Heming’s’ testimony, where he managed to have himself removed as a witness and discredit the prosecution's case (perhaps a plant, or intentional) during Captain Medina’s 1971 court martial trial:

“Colonel Howard, in his instructions to the jury, cast doubts on the testimony of some of the prosecution witnesses. He referred to Gerald Heming as a "frequent user of wine, drinking as much as four quarts a day and (who) had experimented with LSD." (Ref: Army Withdraws Witness At Medina’s Court-Martial, By Homer Bigart, New York Times, 26 August 1971)

Coincidence... or just a different guy?
Gene

#12 Len Colby

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 03:37 PM

Len:
One reference (for a BBC documentary) lists witnesses called during the trial, including a “Jerry LeMar Heming”, and Calvin Louis Hawkins C Company, 26th Engineer Bn, both demolition experts. This is obviously not Gerry P. Hemming, but my conspiratorial imagination tells me it could’ve been an alias for the ex-marine mercenary.



Well, that pretty much settles it, we’re talking about 2 different people. Why would some use an “alias” so close to their real name? AFAIK GP had no demo experience



“Colonel Howard, in his instructions to the jury, cast doubts on the testimony of some of the prosecution witnesses. He referred to Gerald Heming as a "frequent user of wine, drinking as much as four quarts a day and (who) had experimented with LSD." (Ref: Army Withdraws Witness At Medina’s Court-Martial, By Homer Bigart, New York Times, 26 August 1971)

Coincidence... or just a different guy?


Did GP drink a lot of wine and/or drop acid?

#13 Gene Kelly

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 05:22 PM

Len:
I don't know too much about GPH, other than what I've seen in his posts on this website, plus earlier descriptions by A. J. Webberman in his research. It painted a picture of a very colorful guy, one who knew how to spin a tale and one who liked the soldier of fortune moniker. Truthfully, I don't know if he drank a lot or ever used LSD. When you read the trial summaries and F. Lee Bailey's defense of Capt. Medina - specifically how he discredited certain witnesses for the prosecution (like this Heming fellow) - one is left with the impression that the soldier who admitted to drinking excess wine and wistfully wanting LSD was either was either naive or intentionally forthcoming (so as to help Medina). So, what i'm saying is, the admission in trail by Heming of his drinking and drug habits appeared not credible and devious. However, none of that proves this was GPH. This simply seemed like an interesting coincidence to me... the name popped off the screen when I read it.

Gene

#14 Len Colby

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 02:38 PM

Before telling us it was the same person (as if it were established) you should have told us HeMing and HeMMing had different middle names, you of all people should be aware more than one person can share the same (let alone similar) 1st and last names.

#15 Gene Kelly

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 11:53 PM

One reference used Heming... another used Hemming. One used Jerry... another used Gerry. I only found the Lemar (middle name) after digging more, and your challenge. I thought there was something to this, something odd... and I still do. Was hoping some other researcher (more familiar with GPH) might shed some light, such as nicknames ("hotrod") or participation in My Lai. For the record, I have no proof that its GPH, just a suspicion.



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