Hugh Thompson and My Lai

Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by TaylorTRoom, Apr 15, 2022.

  1. TaylorTRoom

    TaylorTRoom 1,000+ Posts

    Timely, because of Ukraine War (and Russian atrocities) and today being Hugh Thompson’s birthday.

    I had started the second grade at South Columbus Elementary School in Columbus, Georgia. The court martial of Lt. William Calley was taking place in adjacent Ft Benning. It received a lot of attention- there was no controversy over whether a crime had happened; most of the discussion among my father and his friends was over how high up the direction to massacre the village might have come.

    Years later, my father (a SFC while serving as a combat marksman in Mekong Delta) stated that My Lai happened because the NCOs present weren’t strong enough. He said that he sympathized with the desire, after your best friend was blown up by a bomb that the village had just assured you wasn’t there, to kill a bunch of them, but that they all knew that was illegal. He said the army had drilled into them that they were not to obey illegal orders. He felt that if a lieutenant gave such an order, an experienced NCO would say, “We’re not going to do that, sir”.

    Hugh Thompson was the WO who came upon the scene and stopped it. I can’t imagine the courage to run in front of armed men committing a crime and stopping them. It would have been so much easier to sit back and file a report later.

    The army really didn’t know what to do with Thompson after. They were so entangled with Calley, prosecuting him while trying to manage the army and national politics. It wasn’t until the ‘80s that he received belated recognition. He was a different kind of war hero, but I think we can be proud of him for showing the decency possible during war.
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  2. Dionysus

    Dionysus Idoit Admin

    @TaylorTRoom The whole situation is heart breaking to think about. War is such a failure of humanity.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. TaylorTRoom

    TaylorTRoom 1,000+ Posts

    US military trials are notoriously lenient.

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