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Posted: 1/6/2006 12:13:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/6/2006 12:14:55 PM EDT by warlord]
BBC NEWS
My Lai massacre hero dies at 62

Hugh Thompson Jnr, a former US military helicopter pilot who helped stop one of the most infamous massacres of the Vietnam War has died, aged 62.

Mr Thompson and his crew came upon US troops killing civilians at the village of My Lai on 16 March 1968.

He put his helicopter down between the soldiers and villagers, ordering his men to shoot their fellow Americans if they attacked the civilians.

"There was no way I could turn my back on them," he later said of the victims.

Mr Thompson, a warrant officer at the time, called in support from other US helicopters, and together they airlifted at least nine Vietnamese civilians - including a wounded boy - to safety.

He returned to headquarters, angrily telling his commanders what he had seen. They ordered soldiers in the area to stop shooting.

But Mr Thompson was shunned for years by fellow soldiers, received death threats, and was once told by a congressman that he was the only American who should be punished over My Lai.

A platoon commander, Lt William Calley, was later court-martialed and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings.

President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to three years' house arrest.

Although the My Lai massacre became one of the best-known atrocities of the war - with journalist Seymour Hersh winning a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on it - little was known about Mr Thompson's actions for decades.

In the 1980s, Clemson University Professor David Egan saw him interviewed in a documentary and began to campaign on his behalf.

He persuaded people including Vietnam-era Secretary of State Dean Rusk to lobby the government to honour the helicopter crew.

Mr Thompson and his colleagues Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta were awarded the Soldier's Medal, the highest US miltiary award for bravery when not confronting an enemy.

Mr Thompson was close to tears as he accepted the award in 1998 "for all the men who served their country with honour on the battlefields of South-East Asia".

Mr Andreotta's award was posthumous. He was killed in Vietnam less than a month after My Lai.

Mr Colburn was at Mr Thompson's bedside when he died, the Associated Press reported.

Mr Thompson died of cancer. He had been ill for some time and was removed from life support earlier in the week.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4589486.stm

Published: 2006/01/06 20:03:21 GMT

© BBC MMVI
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 2:57:39 PM EDT
I was in the army at the time and I certainly remember seeing Calley’s name in every newspaper or TV evening news show that I encountered.

I never heard of Thompson until just now.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 3:34:14 PM EDT
What he did took lots of guts, hat's off
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:01:45 PM EDT
RIP
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:09:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/6/2006 4:09:58 PM EDT by DK-Prof]

Hugh Thompson was a hero. When I used to teach an MBA class on leadership I mentioned him as a great example.


RIP.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 4:19:12 PM EDT
"How do you know who to shoot?"

"Anyone that runs, is a VC. Anyone that stands still, is a well-disciplined VC.

"Are there any women or children?"

"A few"

"How can you shoot women and children?"

"Easy. You lead them less."

"Ain't war hell?"

"Git some... git some"...



Link Posted: 1/6/2006 5:06:11 PM EDT
I had heard about Mr. Thompson a while back. He had a huge pair of brass ones for sure. May he rest in peace.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 6:58:10 PM EDT

Back in the Day - Dec. 4, 1969



Former helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, Jr., left, and his gunner Lawrance Colburn leave the My Lai Memorial, in Quang Ngai, Vietnam, March 15, 1998 after a reunion with two female villagers they rescued during the massacre. Hugh Thompson Jr., a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from being killed by fellow GIs during the My Lai massacre, died early Friday, Jan. 6, 2006. He was 62. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)


RIP

Link Posted: 1/6/2006 7:04:46 PM EDT
There was a 60 Minutes episode about him and the massacre a while back. 62 is a very young age to die. From what I saw on 60 Minutes, I'm sure he fought demons every day he was alive. Right or wrong, he displayed courage few of us could ever live up to. RIP.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 7:09:32 PM EDT
This is spooky. I was thinking of him and his crew just 10 minutes ago, just before I fired up the computer and came on board. And this is the first time in a long time I've heard anything about him and the event. Whoa...[/Neo]
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 7:21:17 AM EDT
Did anyone every imagine that "Mai Lai" and "Hero" would ever appear together in the same sentence?

The fact is, there were many heros in that conflict and it takes a sheer effort of will to overcome the MSM bias and let them be known.
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 8:54:12 AM EDT
What he did took a lot of courage not so much from the possiblity of facing US fire but from inserting himself into the military chain of command during a combat operation. He was a true American Hero.
Link Posted: 1/7/2006 10:55:08 PM EDT
RIP. A true hero he was. I saw posts from freepers condemning his actions as having hurt the United States which was simply disgusting.
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