Ronald Ridenhour

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Ronald Lee "Ron" Ridenhour (* 6. April 1946 in Oakland , California ; † 10. May 1998 in Metairie , Louisiana ) was an American GI and later a journalist , a crucial role in educating the during the Vietnam War by the United States Armed Forces committed the My Lai massacre , in which 503 Vietnamese civilians were murdered.


Ridenhour was drafted into the US Army as a GI in 1967 , where he was trained in Hawaii later that year as a member of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, a unit of the 11th Infantry Brigade. Parts of this unit were part of the Charlie Company in Vietnam, a unit led by Lt. Affiliated to William Calley . Ridenhour was transferred to Vietnam in December 1967. In use as a gunner of a helicopter, however, he was not involved in the incident on March 18, 1968 in Mỹ Lai. After the massacre, Ridenhour first learned of the incident in April 1968 from a friend who served in Charlie Company, and four more eyewitness accounts were to follow. Shocked by the reports, he began a year-long investigation on his own initiative, which found that the allegations were confirmed by many other soldiers. After his discharge from the army in December 1968, the now 22-year-old Ronald Ridenhour decided in March 1969 to inform the American authorities. He wrote a letter to his Congressman, Morris Udall, and mailed copies to 30 other well-known officials, including President Richard Nixon and Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird . At the end of April, General Westmoreland , then Army Chief of Staff , handed the case over to the Inspector General for Investigation. The investigation led to several convictions against those involved in the massacre, in particular William Calley, who was pardoned by Nixon a little later.

Ridenhour died of a heart attack in 1998 at the age of 52 while playing handball in Metairie , New Orleans .

The Ridenhour Prizes named after him have been awarded since 2004.

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