Monday, January 09, 2006

A True Patriot!

Army pilot was hero at My Lai

Published: January 8th, 2006 02:30 AM

Hugh Thompson, an Army helicopter pilot who rescued Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre, reported the killings to his superior officers in a rage over what he had seen, testified at the inquiries and received a commendation from the Army three decades later, has died in Alexandria, La. He was 62.

The cause was cancer, Jay DeWorth, a spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center where Thompson died Friday, told The Associated Press.

On March 16, 1968, Thompson, a chief warrant officer, and his two crewmen were flying on a reconnaissance mission over the South Vietnamese village of My Lai when they spotted bodies strewn over the landscape.

Thompson landed twice in an effort to determine what was happening, finally coming to the realization that a massacre was taking place. The second time, he touched down near a bunker in which a group of about 10 civilians were being menaced by American troops. Using hand signals, Thompson persuaded the Vietnamese to come out while ordering his gunner and his crew chief to shoot any American soldiers who opened fire on the civilians. None did.

Thompson told of what he had seen when he returned to his base. “They said I was screaming quite loud,” he told US News & World Report in 2004. “I threatened never to fly again. I didn’t want to be a part of that. It wasn’t war.”

Thompson later testified before Congress, a military inquiry and the court-martial of Lt. William L. Calley Jr., the platoon leader at My Lai, who was the only soldier to be convicted in the massacre.

In 1998, the Army presented Thompson with the Soldier’s Medal, for heroism not involving conflict with an enemy. .
There's not much an old sailor can add to that story; I do have some questions, though! It wasn't so long ago a group of veterans was denying that things like this went on, and said that anyone who told such stories was disparaging them and their service. They called themselves the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth...

There are those who deny the Holocaust, saying it never happened and that it was a media stunt. There are those who deny the Armenian massacre, and Turks who speak of it are tried for treason. There have were denials in the Balkans about the massacre at Srebrenica and initially about the Rwandan genocide. Tienanmen square is denied in China, Pearl Harbor isn't taught in Japanese history books, let alone the rape of Nanking which is still denied even though the Japanese government apologized for it!

I am sure my words here would be considered treasonous by some; they forget that there was once a King named George who tried to deny his people the right to speak, and had his tail thoroughly kicked for it. He spied, he jailed, he oppressed, and they rose to defeat him. Though most of our citizenry isn't of that same fiery stock our ancestors were, there has to be a way to show our current King George the error of his ways, even if it's only showing his party the door in the next election cycle.

Somehow we have to take our country back from big business, the lobbyists and the "cronie-ists". The revolving door between officeholders, elected and appointed, and lobbyist positions needs to be welded shut. I don't know how to accomplish that, but there has to be a way!

We used to have a collective conscience as a nation; now we only seem to have a wallet! I miss the country I grew up in-desperately!



sttropezbutler said...

Very powerful and thoughtful Alan.

I could not agree with you more....and I do harbor a secret hope that by our continuing to talk, to blog and to share, that we will be able to "take" back this country!


TDharma said...

Thank you Alan, I had never heard of this guy. (I like to think I'm pretty well informed)

It's guys like this, a spirit like this, that will help us through our current mess. I was amazed to hear the other day the President of Iran (what a bozo) says the holocaust never happened and the jews in israel should be driven into the sea. The madness never stops. The darkness must be navigated again and again.

Nancy said...

You are right about so much here Alan. Our government and big business is a biggie. I was telling somebody the other day that one thing that needs to happen, is for our elected officials not to be allowed to receive any gifts or free meals of any kind.

We stopped it while I was a purchasing manager and it worked wonders. First, people were not out for three martini lunches anymore, cuz they were no longer free. Second, favoring one vendor over another was not happening for the sake of what gifts the purchasing agent liked best. Third, it simply kept the agent honest and made them do homework on pricing and quality and service.

Could you imagine taking away those few perks from the chosen ones? They might just have to work harder to please the people and not those who are buying them summer homes in the Hamptons!

It seems like such a small thing with big consequences to me.

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