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Ernest Medina
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Military Personnel
    (August 27, 1936-May 8, 2018)
    Born in Springer, New Mexico
    US Army Infantry Captain
    Commanded Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (1966-69)
    Was in command of C Company when his men killed 347 civilians in the My Lai massacre (March 16, 1968)
    Court martialed on 102 counts of involuntary manslaughter for allowing soldiers under his command to kill civilians (1971)
    After leaving the military, became salesman for a helicopter company and a real estate agent
    He lied about his age to join the National Guard at sixteen.
    At the court martial of Lt. William Calley, Calley said Medina ordered the attack on My Lai and the killing of civilians, telling the soldiers that the residents of the village were Viet Cong sympathizers.
    He admitted to shooting a woman who was walking out of a drainage ditch with her hands in the air.
    When a general asked him how many civilians had been killed at My Lai, he replied ’20 to 28,’ later admitting that it was a deliberate lie.
    He threatened rifleman Michael Bernhardt to deter Bernhardt from sending a report of what happened to his Congressman.
    At his court martial, he said he was unaware of the massacre until it was already over; after leaving the army, he admitted he had known about the massacre when it was happening.
    His mother died of cancer when he was an infant and his father sent him and his sister to live with their grandparents.
    He graduated with honors from officer candidate school.
    Before My Lai, he earned a Silver Star for bravery in rescuing his men from a minefield.
    The Army initially tried to cover up the massacre, reporting that 128 Viet Cong guerillas and 22 civilians had been killed in a ‘firefight.’
    General William Westmoreland congratulated him on an ‘outstanding job.’
    Although he admitted giving orders to destroy the village, he said that when one of his men asked at the mission briefing about killing noncombatants, he replied, ‘No, you do not kill women and children. You must use common sense.’
    He testified that he had shot the woman with her hands up because he thought she had a grenade.
    His attorney, F. Lee Bailey, pointed out that there had been many incidents of Viet Cong and their supporters faking surrender only to produce pistols or grenades to attack American soldiers.
    He later noted about Vietnam, ‘It wasn't a conventional type war…. It's something I feel a lot of draftees were not trained for, a lot of the officers were not trained. I'm talking not just about lieutenants. I'm talking about senior officers.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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