Over forty-one years after the My Lai Massacre, when US troops killed more than 500 men, women and children in Vietnam, the former Army lieutenant who was convicted for his role in the killings has publicly apologized. William Calley was the only US soldier held legally responsible for the slayings. He was convicted on twenty-two counts of murder, and his sentence was later commuted by President Reagan. Last week, William Calley publicly apologized for the first time, saying, “There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai.” He added that he had been following orders.

Seymour Hersh describing the My Lai Massacre and the role of the former Army lieutenant William Calley:

In any case, one mother tucked a child, a two- or three-year-old boy, under her stomach, and somehow he survived all the bullets. And they heard a keening noise, the soldiers told me. And this little boy climbed his way up through the ditch full of other people’s blood, got to the top and began to run across the—you know, just to run away. And Lieutenant Calley turned to Meadlo, his most dependable shooter—others had stopped at a certain point or shot high—and said, “Meadlo, plug him.” And Meadlo looked at one person and couldn’t do it. And Calley then, with a great—you know, very saucy-like—grabbed his carbine—officers had a smaller rifle called a carbine—ran behind him and shot him.

Everybody remembered that, because the next morning, Meadlo was walking on patrol with the soldiers—they moved on to a few clicks away, a mile or so away, and began to patrol again, as they always did—just another day’s work, I guess. I don’t know. And he stepped on a land mine—Meadlo did—and blew his right leg off at the knee. And when the medevac was coming—they called in a chopper to take him away—he began to issue an oath: “God has punished me, Lieutenant Calley, and God will punish you. God has punished me.” And the kids, in telling me about this a year and a half later, all remembered how angry they were. “Get him out of here! Get him out of here!” They didn’t want to hear this.

Democracy Now: Calley Apologizes for 1968 My Lai Massacre