History is about so much more than memorizing facts. It is about the story. And, told in the right way, it is the greatest one ever written: Good and evil, triumph and tragedy, despicable acts of barbarism and courageous acts of heroism. Glenn’s latest book, Miracles and Massacres, is history as you’ve never heard it told. It’s incredible events that you never knew existed. And it’s stories so important and relevant to today that you won’t have to ask: Why didn’t they teach me this?
Courage is at the core of any soldier’s character, but most veterans would agree that it took a special kind of bravery to fly helicopter reconnaissance in the Vietnam War.
When you imagine a combat helicopter you might picture a Blackhawk or a Cobra or an Apache – a fast, tough, armored aircraft with mounted guns and rockets and missiles to defend it. Hugh Thompson didn’t fly one of those.
Think of one of those small, single-rotor helicopters with just a clear bubble for a cockpit – nothing bulletproof about it. It seats only three, a pilot and two gunners at the doors.
That’s what Hugh Thompson flew.
His main job was to fly low into a hot zone before the troops arrived. Then, once the enemy started shooting at him he’d pinpoint the threat, warn his ground commanders, and call in the gunships to clear the way for an advance.
It was among the most dangerous jobs for any pilot. Hugh Thompson was one of the best, and he was shot down five times in his career – but this work saved a lot of lives, and it’s what he wanted to do.
Though he was awarded the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, it’s possible that you’ve never heard of Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, Jr. If you know anything at all about the Vietnam War, though, you’ve certainly heard about the one day when he saved more lives than he ever had before.
In recognition of Hugh Thompson’s actions on that day, a U.S. Congressman tried to have him court-martialed. Thompson was mocked and smeared, and he got death threats and hate-mail. It was 30 long years before his government would finally, officially, call him a hero.
On that 30-year anniversary the Army gave Hugh Thompson the Soldier’s Medal – the most distinguished award for heroism not involving conflict with an armed enemy.
What did he do to earn that praise? And why did it take so long? You’ll have to read the whole story in Miracles and Massacres to find out – but this is one of those chapters that has both a massacre AND a miracle. You’ll be ashamed of our country and proud of it, all at the same time.
Hugh Thompson: the light in the darkness of Vietnam’s My Lai Massacre – read his incredible story now in chapter 11 of Miracles and Massacres.