Captain Ernest Medina, Witness of the Court

Questions asked by Judge Kennedy:

Q:      Let me ask you, were there any questions asked of you at that briefing?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Do you recall what they were?

A:      Yes, sir.  One of the questions that was asked of me at the briefing was,  "Do we kill women and children?"

Q:      What was your reply?

A:      My reply to that question was:   No, you do no kill women and children.  You must use common sense.  If they have a weapon and are trying to engage you, when you can shoot back, but you must use common sense."

Q:     Were any provisions made by you for the treatment of any wounded Vietnamese?

A:      No, sir.

Q:     Was there any provision made for the capture and collection of the Vietnamese in that Village?

A:      There were no instructions given as far as capture or collection of any noncombatants in the village of My Lai Four.  It was standard procedure in operations that we had conducted that the sweep elements, when they moved through the village, they would move through as rapidly as possible, pushing any of the inhabitants to the far side of the village, segregating them in an open area'....

Q:      Did you say your purpose in being in the area was to look for weapons?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      And you thought this woman had a weapon?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Now, why didn't you look for one?

A:      Well, I was a little concerned about having shot the woman.  She was the first person I had ever killed.  I was a little scared, I didn't see any weapon and I was upset about having shot her....

Q:      Did you cross any major trails that intersected that village, that run from north-south, east west?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Did you see any bodies anywhere near this trail intersection?

A:      Yes, sir....

Q:      Now, had you received any radio communication from any part of your company concerning what the body count was up to that point?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Did you relay that to Task Force Barker?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Now, could you tell us who gave you these reports, or what the reports were?

A:      The initial report that I had received was the first VC that the gunships had killed, the VC evading with weapons.  The second report that I received was from the platoon leader of the first platoon, Lieutenant Calley, giving me a body count of approximately sixty-nine.

Q:      Did you transmit that body count to headquarters of Task Force Barker?

A:      Yes, sir....

Q:      Now, did you at any time on the fifteenth of March or at any time on the sixteenth of March order or direct Lieutenant Calley to kill or waste any Vietnamese people?

A:       No, sir.

Q:      After you left the village and you were some distance from the village, did you, at any time, ever receive a radio message to return to the village of  My Lai Four?

A:      Yes, sir. . . . between fifteen-thirty, sixteen-thirty hours on the sixteenth of March. . . I had received a radio communication from Major Calhoun and he instructed me to return back to the village of My Lai Four and to determine how many noncombatants had been killed.  I told Major Calhoun that I felt because of the distance involved of my having to return back to the village from my night defensive position, we would have to clear the area that we had just crossed from My Lai Four to our night position.  We would have to clear it again for mines and booby traps.  I felt that it would be best not to return.  Also at this time, I had an indication that the Forty-Eighth VC Battalion, which was supposed to have been in the village of My Lai Four, had not been there.  That there had been a number of noncombatants killed.  And this is the other reason I did not want to return back to the village.  At that time, Major Calhoun had instructed me to try to determine the number of innocent civilians that had been killed at the village of My Lai Four.  I got my platoon leaders together and I asked them for a body count of innocent civilians that had been killed.  The first platoon leader,  Lieutenant Calley, told me in excess of fifty.  Lieutenant Brooks, the second platoon leader, told me the like number.  He said,  I believe the like number of fifty or more."  Lieutenant LaCross, the third platoon leader, gave me a body count of six.  At that time, I--"Oh, my God, what is -- what happened?"  I already had an indication that noncombatants had been killed.  I did not know it was this large a magnitude and at that tie I made a remark to the platoon leaders that I had seen approximately twenty to twenty-eight, and that that was the body count that I was going to give Major Calhoun.  I got on the task force command net.  I told Major Calhoun that I had a body count of twenty to twenty eight noncombatants that had been killed.  He said,  I want you to go back into the village of My Lai Four and make an exact count of how many men, women, and children had been killed," and about that time, an individual using the call sign of Sabre Six broke into the conversation and said,  Negative. What does Six," or  What does Charlie Six say he has?"  I said, "Twenty to twenty eight.   Sabre Six came back and says, "‘That sounds about right.  Don't send him back in there.

Q:      Sabre Six is General Koster?

A:      The call sign Sabre Six was the call sign of the division Commander of the Americal division, General Koster....

Q:      Did Lieutenant Calley ever radio to you, at any time in the morning hours of sixteen March, that any villagers were slowing his progress?

A:      No, sir.

Q:      Did you ever issue an order to him to speed his progress toward a defensive position on the east side of My Lai Four?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Did you ever radio any of your platoon leaders words in substance, "The party is over, the show is over, that is enough for today ?

A:      No, sir. . . . I did place a cease-fire order to the platoon leaders to make sure that there were no innocent civilians or noncombatants being killed  indiscriminately.  This was done as I moved up to the area where the individual that had been wounded in the foot and after I had seen the twenty to twenty-eight people on the trail after we had evacuated the individual that had been wounded.  I had received a transmission from Major Calhoun.  I again relayed to the platoon leaders to cease fire, to make sure that no noncombatants were being indiscriminately killed, and there was another time that I called forward to the first platoon, and I said, "Damn it, what is going on up there?  I wanted all this firing stopped.

Q:      With regard to the body count, what was the total body count that you reported as being a result of this operation?

A:       The total body count that was reported for the operation was one hundred twenty-eight.  this was a combined body count for Bravo and C Company. Bravo Company had, I think, forty to forty-five.

Q:      What was your report as total body count?

A:      The body count that I reported to the task force was between eighty and eighty-five

Q:      Did you ever report to the task force headquarters anything about any prisoners that had been taken by C Company?

A:      I reported to the task force that we had detained approximately twenty to thirty VC suspects.

Q:      Was that true?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      And who detained those, where did you get that information?

A:      The detainees that we picked up were in the second platoon, sir.  It was on the northern portion of the village.

Q:      Do you know what happened to those persons who were detained, in your own knowledge?

A:      Once we began moving toward the east from the village, we came upon a group of civilians that had been rounded up.  I estimate the number somewhere between eighty to ninety,  I guess, that had been gathered.  There were men, women, and children.  I had my interpreter talk to them. We selected the ones that appeared to be Viet Cong suspects of military age.  The women and children and the old Vietnamese males, I instructed Sergeant Phu to tell them to proceed from this area and go directly to the refugee center either at Son Thanh or Quang Ngai and report in to the ARVN adviser there and they would be taken care of. . .

Q:      Was it generally know to you after -- immediately after -- sixteen March or after you left the village of My Lai four that many unarmed people had been killed in the village?

A:      On the evening of the sixteenth of March, at the night defensive position, I became aware of the magnitude of the number of people that -- that there had been  a large number of noncombatants that had been killed at the village of My Lai four.  I was not to hear until sometime later how many or, you know, the great number of civilians that had been killed . . .

Q:      Did you ever give an order in My Lai four, on sixteen March, over the radio or in person, to anyone that they should move the civilians out of the way, or get  rid of them, or anything in substance like that?

A:      No, sir.

Q:      Did you ever give an order in substance to save enough civilians so that they could be utilized to clear the mine fields for the rest of the Pinkville operation?

A:      No, sir.

Q:      Now, immediately following the date sixteen March, did you ever make a statement to anyone, in substance, "I will go to jail for this ?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      And when was that?

A:      Could have been possibly the night defensive position when I found out what had happened, and also a couple of days later at LZ-Dottie.

Q:      All right.  You testified that you made a radio transmission to the first platoon, in substance, "Damn it, what is going on up there?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      What prompted that?

A:       I had received a -- I had placed out a cease-fire order to the platoon leaders.  By a cease fire, I mean that they were no -- to make sure that there were no innocent civilians being killed.  then I received a call from the task force S-three stating that he had a helicopter report that there was indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians.  I again put this out.  After I had started moving fromt the evacuation, I again put -- there was shooting over on the right-hand side.  I then called the first platoon and told the, "Damn it, what is going on?   I wanted to make sure that there were no innocent civilians being killed. . .

Q:      Did you ever see any Vietnamese being shot at in the vicinity of the dust-off area?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Would you relate that?

A:      Yes, sir.  Shortly after the dust-off, we started moving in an easterly direction along the east-west trail.  I was in the middle of the command group, there was a Vietnamese male, a small boy, that started moving form the edge of the wood line in front of the command group.  I caught the movement.  I turned and started to raise my rifle.  I seen that it was a child. I started to put it down.  And I either uttered the words, "Get him! Get him! Stop him! Stop him! or "Don't shoot! Don't shoot!  and somebody fired, the child fell....

Examination by Aubrey Daniel:

Q:     Did he indicate he was having any difficulty in moving at the time?

A:      No, sir.

Q:      Did he indicate that he had gathered up any detainees at this time?

A:      No, sir.

Q:      Did you make any such inquiry?

A:      No, sir....

Examination by George Latimer:

Q:     Did you indicate at any time that the information you had been given in a briefing was false and that there were men, women, and children in the village?

A:       I did not expect to find noncombatants in the village of May Lai Four

Q:      Were you surprised when you did see them?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      Did you say anything to your lower command or your higher command about that?

A:      No, sir.

Q:     Why -- when you first shot the women, Captain Medina, you felt so horrified and sick about it, why, when you saw the small boy running by and you saw
somebody kill him, and whey when you saw that body there, you didn't call somebody and notify them what you had seen and make it positive that you had seen it and reported it to higher headquarters?

A:      There were four reasons, sir.

Q:      Let's have them.

A:      Number one, sir, I did not expect to find any noncombatants in that area; I expected to go in and do combat with the Forty-Eighth VC Battalion.  The woman-- I was shocked.  It was the first human being that I had shot and I assumed that I did kill her.  The four reasons that I did not report the shooting of any innocent or noncombatants at the village of My Lai four and the reason that I suppressed the information from the brigade commander when I was questioned are as follows:  Number one, I realized that instead of going in and doing combat with an armed enemy, the intelligence information was faulty and we found nothing but women and children in the village of My Lai four, and , seeing what had happened, I realized exactly the disgrace that was being brought upon the Army uniform that I am very proud to wear.  Number two, I also realized the repercussions that it would have against the United States of America.  Three, my family, and number four, lastly, myself, sir.

Q:     And those are the reasons you didn't report it?

A:     Yes, sir.

Q:     What has happened now because you didn't report it?

A:     What has happened now, sir?

Q:     Yes.  Worse, isn't it?....

Q::     All right.  Then you would expect any order given by you they would comply with, wouldn't you?

A:      I would expect them to obey an order, yes, sir.

Q:      And you would give the same attention and devotion to orders given to you by Colonel Barker, would you not?

A:      Yes, sir.

Q:      So, when you were told to burn the hootches, you went out and burned the hootches, did you not?

A:      Yes, sir.