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Hugh Thompson, Jr.
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Hero
    (April 15, 1943-January 6, 2006)
    Born in Atlanta, Georgia
    Helicopter pilot who intervened to save civilians from slaughter during the Vietnam War's My Lai Massacre (March 16, 1968)
    Received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal (discarded), the Soldier's Medal and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award
    Died of cancer at a Veterans Medical Center in Alexandria, LA at age 62
    'Song for Hugh Thompson' written and recorded by folk singer David Rovics in 1998
    After serving in the U.S. Navy between 1961-64, he opened a funeral home, but two years of burying dead people was all he could stand and he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
    Disobeying orders, he put the lives of his two crew members in peril.
    South Carolina Congressmen Mendel Rivers wanted him court-martialed for turning his helicopter guns on U.S. soldiers, but his attempt wasn't successful.
    Though eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetary, he chose to be buried close to the LA VA hospital where he died.
    Flying his copter between fleeing civilians and Lt. William Calley's advancing troops he told his crew, 'Y'all cover me! If these bastards open up on me or these people, you open up on them. Promise me!'
    This action saved at least 10 unarmed women and children.
    He also found a boy alive amongst a pile of 100 bodies and evacuated him to a hospital.
    A cover-up of the event came swiftly and when he was given a medal along with a phony story of fabricated events he threw it in the trash.
    Some felt his actions against fellow soldiers were wrong and he received hate mail, mutilated animals on his doorstep and death threats.
    His relentless pursuit of the truth finally got top ranking officials to admit 'mistakes were made,' though the only soldier who did any time was Calley (3½ years of house arrest).
    He went with crewman Lawrence Colburn to My Lai on the 30th anniversary of the massacre, met with two women whom he helped save and dedicated a new elementary school for the village.
    In 2004, he went on 60 Minutes and stated of the troops responsible for the slaughter, 'I wish I was a big enough man to say I forgive them, but I swear to God, I can't.'

Credit: Scar Tactics


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