Brian Tanguay’s article “My Lai Massacre’s Santa Barbara Connection” does a nice job relating how journalists Hersh and Obst picked up on and marketed the story of that horrific event. I was disappointed, however there was no mention of the soldier, Ronald Ridenhour, who while serving in Viet Nam, approached and interviewed witnesses to the atrocities committed at “Pinkville,” the name given to My Lai by GIs.
Ridenhour served in the 11th Infantry Brigade and had initially heard of the incident second hand. After returning to the U.S., he enrolled at Claremont McKenna College where we were friends and football teammates. One evening in 1969 he shared with me a letter he had written. Still having faith in the country he had served and his countrymen, Ron chose not to sell his story to the media, but instead he sent it to 30 members of Congress and the Pentagon to initiate an investigation.
Ron went on to be an investigative journalist himself and has several literary awards named in his honor. Ron passed away in 1998. The full text of the letter can be found online.