Hugh Thompson Stopped a Massacre With Words, In Tears and Rage He Rescued Innocents, At the End He Left to the Young a Wonderful and Imposing Legacy.
Hugh Thompson will forever be known for an extraordinary act of conscience and courage: putting a stop to the My Lai Massacre, in which 504 unarmed South Vietnamese villagers were terrorized and killed by U.S. soldiers on March 16, 1968.
That morning, Warrant Officer Thompson, 24, was piloting his fragile OH-23 aeroscout helicopter over My Lai with his crew chief, Glenn Andreotta, 20, and his gunner, Larry Colburn, 18. When the three realized that they were witnessing a massacre, Thompson landed his ship between fleeing Vietnamese survivors and pursuing American soldiers. There, Thompson told his crew that if the American soldiers tried to harm the cowering villagers, then they should open fire upon the Americans.