Ernest Medina

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Ernest Medina
Born (1936-08-27) August 27, 1936 (age 78)
Springer, New Mexico
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Captain
Unit 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division
Commands held Company C, 1/20 Americal
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Ernest Lou Medina (born August 27, 1936) is a former captain of infantry in the United States Army. He served during the Vietnam War and was acquitted in a court-martial of war crimes charges in 1971.


Ernest Medina was born into a Mexican-American family in Springer, New Mexico.


According to the 1970 investigation by General William R. Peers, Medina:[1]

  • Planned, ordered, and supervised the execution by his company of an operation against inhabited hamlets in Son My Village, which included the killing of livestock, and the destruction of crops and other foodstuffs.

Captain Medina was court-martialed in 1971 for willingly allowing his men to murder My Lai non-combatants.[2] Medina denied all the charges, and claimed that he never gave any orders to kill Vietnamese non-combatants. Medina's defense team, led by F. Lee Bailey, alleged that his men killed Vietnamese non-combatants under their own volition and not under Medina's orders. Medina also testified that he did not become aware that his troops were out of control at My Lai until it was too late.

Medina also strongly denied killing any Vietnamese non-combatant at My Lai, with the exception of a young woman whom two soldiers testified that they found hiding in a ditch. When she emerged with her hands up, Medina shot her because, he claimed, he thought she had a grenade. In fact she was unarmed. The defense lawyers brought up many incidents during the Vietnam War of Viet Cong suspects and sympathizers faking surrender in order to use hidden pistols or grenades to harm or kill American military personnel.

In August 1971, Medina was ultimately found not guilty of all charges.[3] His trial deliberations lasted approximately 60 minutes. Nevertheless, his military career was finished and Medina resigned from the U.S. Army shortly thereafter.


After resigning from the army, Medina went to work at an Enstrom Helicopter Corporation plant owned by F. Lee Bailey in Menominee, Michigan.[4] He lives in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Cultural references[edit]

Medina is mentioned by name in the first stanza of Pete Seeger's Vietnam protest song "Last Train to Nuremberg" (1970).

"Do I see Lieutenant Calley? Do I see Captain Medina? Do I see Gen'ral Koster and all his crew?"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Peers Report: Captain Ernest Medina". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  2. ^ "Judge Howard's summary of the evidence surrounding the crucial question of knowledge in United States v. Captain Ernest L. Medina". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  3. ^ "1971 Year in Review". 1971-12-28. Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  4. ^ linderd. "Biography of Ernest L. Medina". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 

External links[edit]