ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Hugh Thompson Junior, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who rescued unarmed Vietnamese civilians from his fellow GIs during what became known as the My Lai massacre, died early Friday. He was 62.
Thompson, who was from Lafayette, died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria. It was March 16th, 1968, when Thompson and his crew watched in horror as an American Army officer walked up to an injured Vietnamese girl, flipped her over with his foot -- and shot her dead.
They saw the bodies of Vietnamese children, women and old men piled in an irrigation ditch and saw American soldiers approaching. He placed his chopper down in front of the advancing Americans and gave his gunner a direct order: Train your M-60 on the GIs and if they try to harm the villagers, "You open up on them."
Trent Angers, Thompson's biographer and family friend, said Thompson was being treated for cancer and had been removed from life support earlier this week. Angers said Thompson's former gunner, Lawrence Colburn, had driven in from Atlanta to be at his bedside.