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CPT Hugh C. Thompson, Jr

CPT Hugh C. Thompson, Jr

Birth
Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia, USA
Death 6 Jan 2006 (aged 62)
Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial Lafayette, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, USA
Memorial ID 12922923 · View Source
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US Army Warrant Officer and Helicopter Pilot; he was honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow soldiers during the 1968 My Lai massacre, and for bringing the massacre to a halt. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he joined the Navy in 1961, and upon completion of his Navy term of service, joined the US Army in 1966, to become a helicopter pilot. He volunteered for the Vietnam Aerial Scout Unit, and was assigned to Task Force Barker to fly over the jungle to draw enemy fire, giving attack helicopters a chance to kill enemy forces. On the morning of 16 March 1968, Thompson was piloting an OH-23 helicopter, when they came upon American ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians around the village of My Lai. To prevent more killings, he landed his helicopter between a group of Vietnamese civilians and the soldiers, ordering his door gunner to fire on the soldiers if they attempted to kill the civilians. He then evacuated the civilians, including a 2-year-old boy that he found clinging to his dead mother. He ordered two other helicopters to fly eleven Vietnamese to the hospital at Quang Ngai, then reported the massacre to higher headquarters, and got a cease-fire declared, sparing countless more civilians. Despite his efforts, approximately 500 Vietnamese were murdered in the massacre, which resulted in the later court-martial of 1st Lt. William Calley, the sole officer convicted for the massacre. For the remainder of his tour, he continued to fly OH-23 helicopters, and was shot down five times, the last time breaking his back. He remained another 13 years in the Army, retiring in 1982, then became a counselor at the Louisiana Dept of Veterans Affairs. He would periodically go to West Point to give a personal lecture to the cadets on military ethics. When Thompson's role in preventing loss of life became known, the Army in 1998 awarded him the Soldier's Medal (the highest award for valor not involving combat). He died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana on January 6, 2006, from cancer.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
  • Added: 7 Jan 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 12922923
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for CPT Hugh C. Thompson, Jr (15 Apr 1943–6 Jan 2006), Find A Grave Memorial no. 12922923, citing Lafayette Memorial Park, Lafayette, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .