1LT Tran Ngoc Tan's Letter to Province Chief.
March 28, 1968

Comments: This is the first preliminary report from the South Vietnamese official responsible for the district in which included Son My village. As is noted, the RVN hadn't had control of this area of Quang Ngai Province for years, and an ARVN officers ability to investigate was severely hampered. This letter was followed by a second one on April 11th.

For further reading on this issue, see Lt. Gen. W. R. Peers. The My Lai Inquiry. New York: W.W. Norton, 1979; Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim. Four Hours in My Lai. New York: Viking, 1992.

- John Tegtmeier

No. 181/HC/ST/M
FROM: 1LT Tran Ngoc Tan
Son Tinh District Chief
TO: Quang Ngai Province Chief
SUBJECT: Confirmation of Allied Troops Shooting at the Residents of Tu
Cung Hamlet, Coordinates BS 721795

It is respectfully reported that:
On 19 March 1968, an element of US Forces (unspecified, because this District Headquarters had not been notified of the operation) conducted an operation in Tu Cung Hamlet (BS 721795), Son My Village, Son Tinh District. It was reported that when the element entered the hamlet, one of its members was killed and some others wounded by a VC booby-trapped mine. At this time the VC opened up fiercely from their positions in the hamlet. Meanwhile, US troops used intense firepower while moving in with artillery and air support, inflicting injuries on a number of hamlet residents because the VC mingled with the population.

Observations by this Headquarters
The Tu Cung Hamlet and the two neighboring hamlets, e.g. My Lai (BS 737800) and Van Thien (BS 794804), in Son My Village had become insecure since 1964, so the administrative authorities of these areas had been forced to flee to Son Long (BS 638756), leaving these hamlets under VC control. Casualties were unavoidable caused to the hamlet residents during the firefight, while the local administrative authorities were not present in the area. The enemy may take advantage of this incident to undermine, through fallacious propaganda, the prestige of the RVNAF, and frustrate the Government's rural pacification efforts.

Respectfully yours,
1st Lt Tran Ngoc Tan

Copies to:
S2 and S3, Quang Ngai Sector HQ

Source: Lt. Gen. W.R. Peers. The My Lai Inquiry. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1979. p 278-9

Copyright Digital History 2018