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My Lai hero Hugh Thompson Jr. dies at 62

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)

Author Seymour Hersh won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for his expose of the massacre in 1969 while working as a freelance journalist. The massacre became one of the pivotal events as opposition to the war was growing in the United States.

Hersh called Thompson “one of the good guys.”

“You can’t imagine what courage it took to do what he did,” Hersh said.

Although Thompson’s story was a significant part of Hersh’s reports, and Thompson testified before Congress, his role in ending My Lai wasn’t widely known until the late 1980s, when David Egan, a professor emeritus at Clemson University, saw an interview in a documentary and launched a letter-writing campaign that eventually led to the awarding of the medals in 1998.

“He was the guy who by his heroic actions gave a morality and dignity to the American military effort,” Tulane history professor Douglas Brinkley said.

For years Thompson suffered snubs and worse from those who considered him unpatriotic. He recalled a congressman angrily saying that Thompson himself was the only serviceman who should be punished because of My Lai.

“There are so many people today walking around alive because of him, not only in Vietnam, but people who kept their units under control under other circumstances because they had heard his story. We may never know just how many lives he saved.”

Just A Few Links…
Of Who Hugh was, along with his Crew!

Heroes: Hugh Thompson: Reviled, then honored, for his actions at …

Heroes of My Lai

CNN – Cold War: Chat with Hugh Thompson


60min. CBS News | An American Hero | May 9, 2004 18:52:03

He Personified what Most Military Personal Truly Are, no matter what you hear or see!

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