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Hugh Thompson, 62, a former Vietnam helicopter pilot died today of cancer.. His name isn't so well known as many but the events surround his actions so many years ago are quite well known. For many, the Vietnam conflict is just a page in a history book.. It was really, the first defeat America had experienced in many ways. Our objectives weren't achieved.
A particular footnote to this war was an event called the My Lai Massacre. A unit of soldiers had run rampant and were slaughtering a village of civilians...Vietnamese. They were shot them down like so many beer bottles on a fence post. A chopper pilot, Hugh Thompson Jr,, a warrant officer at the time, came upon this wretched scene and moved his helicopter between the soldiers and the villagers. He commanded the soldiers to stop their fire of his helicopter would even the odds. He eventually confronted the commanding officers at the scene about the massacre. He got back to his base and screamed at his commanders about the events. From that point on, Thompson was a black sheep in the military. They didn't want to do with these mavericks
Thompson's death signals something our country's lost and that is dignity, compassion and sometimes, the need to do the right thing, regardless of the personal cost. It's called sacrifice and he did. When kids grow up, they need heroes but Thompson never gets mentioned. My Lai does, but rarely Thompson at all.
Thompson eventually received the Soldier's Medal, this highest award for bravery, not involving direct conflict with the enemy. He got the award in 1998 some thirty years after My Lai. He's just a name in a foot note now but he's an American Hero as much as any other hero in our history. His name isn't celebrated. He was just a guy who did the right thing and perhaps that's what makes him one of the best. He was fighting for his country. He was just regular guy. He had a tough choice and did the right thing. He's an Everyman of sorts. Perhaps that's what made him great. An ordinary many in extraordinary circumstances.
But then I guess that's always what makes a knight of absolute quality.
Technorati Tags: HughThompson, MyLai, Vietnam,
posted by Stithmeister @ 11:01 AM
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I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.
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