My Lai American Legacy Library Learning Center

On March 16, 1968 at the Village of My Lai, Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam a unit of the 11th Brigade of the Americal Division killed 504 people, women, children, and elderly in what has gone down in history as THE MY LAI MASSACRE—often described as the worst atrocity in the History of the American military.

Hugh Thompson stopped a massacre with words, in tears and rage he rescued innocents, at the end left to the young a wonderful and imposing legacy. Hugh Thompson will forever be known for an extraordinary act of conscience and courage: putting a stop to the My Lai Massacre, in which 504 unarmed South Vietnamese villagers were terrorized and killed by U.S. soldiers.

That morning, Warrant Officer Thompson, 24, was piloting his frag-ile OH-23 aeroscout helicopter over My Lai with his crew chief, Glenn Andreotta, 20, and his gunner, Larry Colburn, 18. When the three realized that they were witnessing a massa-cre, Thompson landed his ship between fleeing Vietnamese survivors and pursuing American soldiers. There, Thomp-son told his crew that if the American soldiers tried to harm the cowering villagers, then they should open fire upon the Americans. Glenn Andreotta was killed in action April 8, 1968, just 3 weeks after wading through bodies in the ditch at My Lai to save the life of a child. Hugh Thompson passed away January 6, 2006. Larry Colburn has started a Foundation in Hugh Thompson’s memory. It’s mis-sion? Keep alive the inspiration of a life well-lived from a moment when common men engaged in uncommon acts of courage.