He ran a jewelry store in the city where Ft. Benning is located (where he went through Officer Candidate School as well as where he was later tried and convicted and served his “house arrest” in lieu of a life sentence before Nixon pardoned him). He married a local girl, whose father owned the jewelry store, and lived there until not very many years ago when they divorced. Reportedly he now lives in Atlanta. He once privately spoke to a Kiwanis Club group at the request of a friend (no press), during which he admitted to all he was charged with, said a day didn’t go by when he didn’t think about it all, and that he was sorry for his part. I thought I recalled that he’d died, but I guess my memory is wrong on that. I did a quick check on the ‘net this evening and it appears he’s still living in obscurity, apparently in the Atlanta area. We once lived relatively close to the city where he worked and I actually had occasion to go into the jewelry store twice for some repair job. I only went because we were told they were probably the best place to get the repair done, rather than chain jewelry stores in the area. I wouldn’t have recognized him at all, had I not been told he worked there. He struck me as a sad shell of a person. He would not talk to reporters at all. He was overweight and had grown a fairly full white beard as I recall (more full than a picture I saw of him tonight while looking to see if he had indeed died – the photo I saw of him had more of just a goatee and mustache). Basically, he lived his life in relative obscurity, married into a fairly wealthy family, divorced many years later, moved to Atlanta, and apparently more or less disappeared.
I had mixed emotions dealing with the man, and never asked him anything – or even acknowledged I knew who he was. He’s not an individual I would have wanted to get to know, and my curiosity about him was not sufficient to get me to try to engage him even if he would have talked. Was he caught up in a terrible war? No question. But in no way can I condone what he did. Yet while he’s fully responsible as a human being, those above him (reportedly all the way to the top generals) also should bear some blame (and consequences). But he was the only one convicted, sadly. There were those there that knew full well that it was wrong, and a few actually refused and/or tried to stop it – but even if Calley was responsible for all 100+ deaths he was originally accused of (he was only convicted of 20+), that left many, many more that were killed by others – including very small children. How does someone live with that, without losing their humanity? (Rhetorical question)
What I don’t comprehend is how a human being can marry someone like that and have children by him. Nor can I comprehend living a materially comfortable life, going to work every day, looking respectable, and at least behaving as if you’re just another person like anyone else in the store or on the street. And I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a child of someone like him, knowing what the world knows about him. Even if he later fulfilled the role of father in a respectable manner, how does a kid reconcile that with the unspeakable horror of what was done before?
I suspect a large number of customers at that jewelry store never knew who was running the place. I only knew because of the recommendation to use them for the jewelry repair, by a person who knew who he was (but didn’t really “know” him personally). Once our repair job was finished and I picked up the piece, I left feeling somehow tainted by even being there. Had we lived closer, that never would have been a place I’d have gone for actual business. I have no idea what he did after his divorce when he moved to Atlanta, and didn’t find anything further on that while looking for confirmation of his death earlier this evening. I suppose he just blended in with few having any idea who/what he really was, and basically just disappeared into “society.” There doesn’t seem to be much of anything on the internet about him following his divorce and move to Atlanta, and to my knowledge, I don’t know anyone that would know his whereabouts or circumstances anymore.