Cross examination of LT William Calley (1970)

Excerpts from the cross examination of Lieutenant William Calley, during his court martial for the My Lai massacre in 1968:

“Q: During these periods of instruction and training, you were instructed by anybody in connection with the Geneva Conference?
A: Yes, sir, I was.

Q: And what was it… do you have a recollection, what was the extent and nature of that tutoring?
A: I know there were classes. I can’t remember any of the classes. Nothing stands out in my mind what was covered in the classes, sir.

Q: Did you learn anything in those classes of what actually the Geneva Convention covered as far as rules and regulations of warfare are concerned?
A: No, sir. Laws and rules of warfare, sir.

Q: Did you receive any training in any of those places which had to do with obedience to orders?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: What were the nature… what were you informed was the principles involved in that field?
A: That all orders were to be assumed legal, that the soldier’s job was to carry out any order given him to the best of his ability.

Q: Did you tell your doctor or inform him anything about what might occur if you disobeyed an order by a senior officer?
A: You could be court martialled for refusing an order and refusing an order in the face of the enemy, you could be sent to death, sir.

Q: Well, let me ask you this: what I am talking and asking is whether or not you were given any instructions on the necessity for — or whether you were required in any way, shape or form to make a determination of the legality or illegality of an order?
A: No, sir. I was never told that I had the choice, sir.

Q: If you had a doubt about the order, what were you supposed to do?
A: If I had questioned an order, I was supposed to carry the order out and then come back and make my complaint. later

Q: Now, during the course of your movement through the village, had you seen any Vietnamese dead, or dead bodies?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: And how would you classify it as to whether it was a few, many, how would you — what descriptive phrase would you use for your own impression?
A: Many.

Q: Now, did you see some live Vietnamese while you were going through the village?
A: I saw two, sir.

Q: All right. Now, tell us, was there an incident concerning those two?
A: Yes, sir. I shot and killed both of them.

Q: Under what circumstances?
A: There was a large concrete house and I kind of stepped up on the porch and looked in the window. There was about six to eight individuals laying on the floor, apparently dead. And one man was going for the window. I shot him. There was another man standing in a fireplace. He looked like he had just come out of the fireplace, or out of the chimney. And I shot him, sir. He was in a bright green uniform…

Q: All right. Now that you gave that incident, did you see any other live individuals who were in the village itself as you made through the sweep?
A: Well, when I got to the eastern edge of the village, I saw a group of Vietnamese just standing right outside the eastern edge of the village, sir, the southeastern edge.

Q: All right. Was there anybody there with that group of individuals that you saw at that time?
A: I recollect that there were GI’s there with them… I heard a considerable volume of firing to my north, and I moved along the edge of the ditch and around a hootch and I broke into the clearing, and my men had a number of Vietnamese in the ditch and were firing upon them.

Q: When you say your men, can you identify any of the men?
A: I spoke to Dursi and I spoke to Meadlo, sir.

Q: Was there anybody else there that you can identify by name
A: No, sir. There was a few other troops, but it was insignificant to me at the time and I didn’t…

Q: What was your best impression of how many were there at the ditch?
A: Four to five, sir.

Q: Two of whom you can specifically identify, Meadlo and Dursi?
A: Yes, sir. I spoke to those two.

Q: What did you do after you saw them shooting in the ditch?
A: Well, I fired into the ditch also sir.

Q: Now, did you have a chance to look and observe what was in the ditch?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what did you see?
A: Dead people, sir.

Q: Now, I will ask you this, Lieutenant Calley: Whatever you did at My Lai on that occasion, I will ask you whether in your opinion you were acting rightly and according to your understanding of your directions and orders?
A: I felt then and I still do that I acted as I was directed, and I carried out the orders that I was given, and I do not feel wrong in doing so, sir…

Q: In connection with this operation, were you asked by Captain Medina to give a body count?
A: Yes, sir.

Q: Were all platoon commanders asked the same question, to your knowledge?
A: I know the second platoon was there with me, and he also gave a body count, sir.

Q: And did you hear the total results turned in to Captain Medina?
A: No, sir

Q: Were you ever criticized for a body count?
A: I was criticized for getting too many shot and not coming back with the enemy.

Q: Did your commanders seek to get a high estimate from you?
A: I generally knew if I lost a troop, I’d better come back with a body count of ten, say I shot at least ten of the enemy, which was pretty hard when you are only fighting one sniper.”