Photo: Historic and tragic.

Son My Museum

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In the early hours of 16 March 1968, a group of American soldiers known as Charlie Company landed by helicopter into the rural village of My Lai with the mission to root out Viet Cong fighters.

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What they found were peasant farmers, mostly women, children and the elderly, in their homes eating breakfast about to start their day. In less than five hours, 504 civilian lives would be brutally erased in what became known as the My Lai Massacre, one of the most horrific atrocities against civilians in American military history of the time.

Son My Museum: Sombre and haunting. Photo taken in or around Son My Museum, Quang Ngai, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Son My Museum: Sombre and haunting. Photo: Cindy Fan

My Lai (pronounced mee lie) lies 15 km northeast of Quang Ngai city near the coast. It is actually one hamlet within the village of Son My (son mee). The massacre took place in two hamlets, on US army maps shown as My Lai 4 and My Khe 4 in an area the army named Pinkville based on the colour it appeared on maps.

Over the course of a morning, the troops rampaged through the village with the objective to kill all. Unarmed civilians were shot point blank, bayonetted, beaten to death, maimed or mutilated—scalping, tongues cut out, hands cut off. Women and girls were gang raped, sexually assaulted and forced to perform sex acts. Homes were sprayed with bullets, grenades were thrown into homes and those fleeing gunned down.

Led by Lt William L. Calley, groups of villagers were herded to an irrigation ditch and executed by machine gun. Witnesses would later describe how one boy no more than three survived the initial gunfire and tried to scramble away, and how Lt Calley ran after the child, dragged him back, threw him into the ditch and shot him. The village was torched to erase ... Travelfish members only (Around 2,200 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
To get to the museum on your own, from Quang Ngai city cross the Tra Khuc bridge (Cau Tra Khuc) going north, then turn right passing My Tra Riverside Hotel. At the large roundabout, continue straight on QL24B. It’s 8 km to Son My.

By public transit, the green Mai Linh bus #3 departs Quang Ngai bus station between 05:30 and 17:30 and winds its way through the city, crosses Tra Khuc bridge and heads northeast with stops at Son My, My Khe beach and ends at Sa Ky port. There’s a bus stop directly in front of the museum. Let the attendant know you are going to Son My (son mee) and they’ll let you know where to disembark. Cost is 13,000 dong per ride. Check this Quang Ngai government link for the current bus schedule.

It’s possible to do a day trip to Son My while in transit. With some careful timing, you could arrive in the morning by train, take a xe om or taxi 13 km to the site and return to catch an onward train. By bus it takes some gumption and timing is more difficult, especially if using local buses that have less reliable departure times. Arrive into Quang Ngai bus station and grab xe om/taxi or take the Mai Linh bus.

On a bus coming from the south along Highway 1A, pass through Quang Ngai town and cross the river. Just where it touches down on the northern bank of the river, there's a sign for Highway QL24B and a sharp right-turn exit—alight here. Or heading from the north, you'll want to get off Highway 1A just before the overpass, which is marked by a sign indicating that you're entering Quang Ngai. Buses can drop you off here if you ask. Find a xe om, meter taxi or find the bus stop and grab bus #3. You can return here when you're done and catch one of the 16-passanger vans heading north or south along Highway 1A.

Finally, it’s possible to hire a car and do it as a long day trip from Hoi An.

Son My Museum
15km from Quang Ngai
Mo-Su: 07:00-17:00
Admission: 10,000 VND. English-speaking guides are available—there is no charge for the service but a donation to the museum is appropriate.

Location map for Son My Museum

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