When This Pilot Witnessed Vietnam’s Most Shocking Episode, He Was Forced To Do The Unthinkable

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Image: via Wikimedia Commons / Ronald L. Haeberle

As a bloody war rages across Vietnam, Hugh Thompson Jr. flies his helicopter over a rural village in search of enemy troops, but what he sees is sickening. Below, a massacre is taking place, as innocent women and children fall at the hands of American soldiers. Unable to face the horror, Thompson is forced to go against his orders, beginning an ordeal that will haunt him for decades to come.

Image: National Archives and Records Administration

Thompson was born to strict Christian parents in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 15, 1943. When he was a child, his family took an active stance against racism, often supporting struggling ethnic minorities in their community, and these values stayed with Thompson after he joined the United States Navy in 1961.

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Image: Starry, Donn A.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1964, Thompson moved to Stone Mountain, GA, where he planned to settle down and start a family. However, the following year, America entered the Vietnam War – and Thompson felt that it was his duty to reenlist.

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