After My Lai: My Year Commanding First Platoon Charlie Company.

Position:Book review

Gary W. Bray; AFTER MY LAI: MY YEAR COMMANDING FIRST PLATOON CHARLIE COMPANY; University of Oklahoma Press (Autobiography/Memoir) $16.95 ISBN: 0806140453

On March 16 1968 the soldiers of the First Platoon Charlie Company led by Lieutenant William Calley slaughtered more than 500 children women and old men of My Lai village. One year later the author then a nineteen-year-old second lieutenant became the leader of this once famous now notorious platoon. Bray recounts his wartime experiences in this short gripping memoir and dedicates it to four young soldiers killed in action with whom Bray served.

The authors style is Spartan and the material is difficult. The platoon patrolled a dangerous area near the South China Sea known as the Gaza Strip terrain full of swamps villagers whose loyalties were uncertain snakes mosquitoes and deadly booby traps. Bray himself received a leg wound from a booby trap in 1970 which luckily caused no major damage. Some of Brays men were not so fortunate and died as a result of massive wounds.

Killing and its effect on young soldiers is a recurrent theme. The authors first kill was a North Vietnamese nurse a memory Bray claims haunts him more now than when it happened. Another memory that still torments the author is...

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