MY LAI PILOT DIES
Hugh Thompson, Jr., the helicopter pilot who stopped his own fellow U. S. Troops from continuing to slaughter innocent people in the Vietnam village of My Lai and who evacuated many for medical help, died yesterday at the age of 62. U. S. Troops, under the command of Lieutenant William Calley, massacred at least 500 civilians at My Lai on March 16, 1968. Thompson's intervention and later testimony about this evil is, to me, an example of high courage and moral composure in the midst of the insanity of war.
"NOTICE, NOTICE, NOTICE!" One source, Heroes of My Lai, quotes Chief My Lai prosecutor William Eckhardt as he described how Thompson responded to what he found when he put his helicopter down: "[Thompson] put his guns on Americans, said he would shoot them if they shot another Vietnamese, had his people wade in the ditch in gore to their knees, to their hips, took out children, took them to the hospital...flew back [to headquarters], standing in front of people, tears rolling down his cheeks, pounding on the table saying, 'Notice, notice, notice'...then had the courage to testify time after time after time."
EXPOSING THE LIE. M. Scott Peck reflects on the My Lai tragedy and Thompson's response in his book about the nature of evil, People of the Lie. Peck discusses it as an example of group evil, a special kind of mob action. Read Thompson's recounting of the event. Listen to NPR's Scott Simon interview Thompson regarding My Lai and Abu Graihb.
Rest in peace, soldier.