On this Day in History
1971: Calley guilty of My Lai massacre
Lieutenant William Calley has been found guilty of murder at a court martial for his part in the My Lai massacre which claimed the lives of 500 South Vietnamese civilians.
Lieutenant Calley was in charge of Charlie Company, a unit of the American Division's 11th Infantry Brigade, who were on a mission to root out the communist 48th Viet Cong Battalion fighters.
They rejected his claim he was merely following orders in a military chain of command instilled in him since joining the army.
the murder of at least 30 "oriental human beings" at a junction of two trails
killing 70 others in a ditch
shooting a man who approached him with his hands raised begging for mercy
killing a child running from the ditch where the 70 died.
He was found guilty on the first three charges, although the number of the first was slashed from 30 to one because of conflicting evidence, and the death toll in the second charge was reduced to 20.
The crimes included murders, rape, sodomy, maiming and assault of civilians.
The Peers inquiry recommended charges should be brought against 28 officers and two non-commissioned officers involved in the concealment of the massacre.
Lieutenant Calley was the only one to be convicted and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. Within three days he was out of prison, pending appeal, on the personal instructions of President Richard Nixon.
He spent the next three years under house arrest at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Freed on bail in 1974 his sentence was then cut to 10 years but he was paroled later that year after completing one third of his sentence.