Lieutenant Calley's Behavior During the Vietnam War

There is a big difference between known realities and the reality especially when it comes to military matters. There is a definite hierarchy in location and most of the times soldiers do refrain from doing their own bidding but have to comply with orders from above. The case of Lieutenant William Calley in the My Lai Massacre is one of the cases that expose the kind of leadership that we have in our military which comes at the backdrop of numerous public outcry versus such cowboy actions.

To numerous civilians, this is viewed as a frame where someone needs to take the fall and this person is normally down in the chain of command.

The interesting thing is that in these cases, there is no evidences to prove who actually gives command for execution of orders that are damaging to human rights. Lieutenant Calley was an average person in education and military service and for that reason there was absolutely nothing extra common about him.

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A number of the fellow soldiers in his troop seemed to distance themselves from him because the media had found a perfect example to depict what was taking place in Vietnam (Collins & & Williams, 2000).

What he did was morally and ethically incorrect however he declares that a command had come from above and he was just following orders from above (Allyne 2000). His character here comes out as somebody who follows orders and is loyal although we can not rule out the opposite. The in Vietnam was really out of favor and very few people supported it and taking a look at problem from sides, the case and proof was breaking the lieutenant.

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Soldiers are understood to be people of high stability and who regard morality highly and therefore there needs to have been other compelling external aspects that triggered him to require the massacre.

Household and buddies had a various opinion on his character and psychological peace of mind. They concerned him as a typical young boy who was incapable of devoting the atrocities in Vietnam. Taking a look at his background, there was a lot that was taking place and a few of it may be evidence enough to suggest that it clouded and disrupted his actions. Calley’s moms and dads were not doing well health smart with both of them suffering from diseases that are related to old ages. detected with a terminal kind of cancer and his father suffered from health issues due to diabetes.

Human psychology is very complex and the way people react to situations differently and the happenings at home might have led to mental instability. The environment in the war front exerts a lot of pressure on soldiers and added pressure from home or other external source is enough to reduce the credence of anyone in a position of leadership. Members of the public with knowledge of the case continue to have a negative a view of Lt. William Calley considering his role in My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

The public’s feeling toward Lt. Calley is further influenced by the media coverage of his case since 1970s, especially considering that prosecution of the case was accusing of acting on the influence of senior decision makers in the military. The increase in the amount of information available to the public is aiding in the shift of public perception in favor of Calley. Indeed, the American people are coming to the understanding that yes, Calley was deeply involved in My Lai massacre, but he was not alone; those at their higher levels of the military’s decision making brogans who were never prosecuted.

Despite the increase in the information available to the public, Calley is still regarded as a blood stained master minder of the massacre. This perception will only change if Calley himself tells the public of the My Lai story. As for the prosecutor, Lt. Calley was simply guilty. To critics, this form of incriminating stance was adopted by the prosecutor, based on the accounts which were issued to him by the Senior Army Personnel who were in control at the moment. To this effect, that Lt.

Calley ordered the massacre in M y Lai is taken as the premise of the case, rather than the need to examine the chain of command under which Lt. Calley was acting and issuing orders. Many of soldiers that were in war at the time in Vietnam concur that the case of the massacre was not an isolated case but may have been one of the many happenings that are alleged to have taken place around that time. The situation on ground in a war zone is usually different from an ideal situation and therefore civilians are the worse people to judge military personnel. The happenings back at home might have interfered with his thinking which supports that he was acting on his own and not orders from above. It is therefore not easy to determine the basis upon which he used to instigate the massacre.


  1. Allyne, W. (2002). A Look at the Vietnam Court Cases New York: McGraw Hill.
  2. Collins, P. and William, A. (2000). Lt. Calley’s Court Cases. New York: Prentice Hall.
  3. Trevino, Linda & Nelson, K. (2007). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4e). New York: Wiley and Sons.

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Lieutenant Calley's Behavior During the Vietnam War. (2016, Sep 19). Retrieved from

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