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December 26, 2016

"Larry" Lawrence Colburn a Humble Hero of My Lai Passed Away 13 December 2016

(Ed. I had the distinct honor of being a friend with Larry since 1995)
Duc Tran Van with Lawrence "Larry" Colburn
Cựu binh Mỹ Larry Colburn, viên xạ thủ trên chiếc trực thăng OH – 23, thuộc nhóm cựu binh Mỹ dũng cảm cản ngăn vụ thảm sát Mỹ Lai (16/3/1968) vừa qua đời tại Mỹ, đêm qua (tức sáng nay giờ Việt Nam) 13/12/2016.
Tổ bay OH - 23 lịch sử đó gồm 3 người: Chỉ huy Glenn Andreotta, lái bay Hugh Thompson, và xạ thủ Larry Colburn. Cả 3 ông sau đó đều được trao tặng huy chương Quân nhân - Soldier’s Medal, huy chương cao nhất của nước Mỹ cho sự anh hùng trong các nhiệm vụ không trực tiếp chiến đấu. Năm 1999, Thompson và Colburn còn nhận thêm giải Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.
Glenn Andreotta mất trong chiến tranh, chỉ 3 tuần sau sự kiện Mỹ Lai. Còn Hugh Thompson mất hồi tháng 1/2006 sau một thời gian dài điều trị bệnh ung thư.
(Ảnh: Larry Colburn và “cậu bé” nhân chứng Mỹ Lai Trần Văn Đức)

From Esquire - this link shared to me by writer/author Howard Jones, who is a University Research Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Alabama and just completing a book about My Lai, which Larry Lawrence Colburn's assistance was invaluable. At the request of Howard, Larry had agreed to speak at the University of Alabama this coming Spring.

John Glenn and Larry Colburn, two facets of bravery.

Courage has a brutal core.

—Táin Bó Cúailnge, Anonymous, c. 750

Two American heroes died this month. One of them was famous and deserved to be. The other one was not famous, but no less deserved to be. One of them was John Glenn, who orbited the Earth before any other American did, and who was a United States senator. The other one was Larry Colburn, who was flying in a helicopter over a village in Vietnam called My Lai on the morning of March 16, 1968.
Glenn was 40 years old when he went aloft. He already had been a combat pilot in the skies above Korea during that war. Larry Colburn was 18 years old, manning a gun on a helicopter, when he heard his pilot, Hugh Thompson, tell the crew that, down on the ground, American soldiers were massacring non-combatants, including women and children, and that he, Thompson, was going to do something about it. Per The New York Times:
"Mr. Thompson was just beside himself," Mr. Colburn recalled in an interview in 2010 for the PBS program "The American Experience." "He got on the radio and just said, 'This isn't right, these are civilians, there's people killing civilians down here.' And that's when he decided to intervene. He said, 'We've got to do something about this, are you with me?' And we said, 'Yes.' " Mr. Thompson confronted the officer in command of the rampaging platoon, Lt. William L. Calley, but was rebuffed. He then positioned the helicopter between the troops and the surviving villagers and faced off against another lieutenant. Mr. Thompson ordered Mr. Colburn to fire his M-60 machine gun at any soldiers who tried to inflict further harm. "Y'all cover me!" Mr. Thompson was quoted as saying. "If these bastards open up on me or these people, you open up on them. Promise me!"
"You got it boss," Mr. Colburn replied. "Consider it done." Mr. Thompson, Mr. Colburn and Glenn Andreotta, the copter's crew chief, found about 10 villagers cowering in a makeshift bomb shelter and coaxed them out, then had them flown to safety by two Huey gunships. They found an 8-year-old boy clinging to his mother's corpse in an irrigation ditch and plucked him by the back of his shirt and delivered him to a nun in a nearby hospital.
To me, this always has been one of the more astonishing displays of courage of which I've ever heard, and I heard about it the way everyone else did, years later, because the Army did its best to cover the whole thing up and to slander the reputations of the helicopter crew involved. (Needless to say, the Nixon Administration was particularly venal in this regard.) Were we a truly vibrant and evolved republic, Larry Colburn's funeral would be on national television. Children would read about him in school. There would be memorials on the National Mall and at West Point.

December 13 at 8:57pm ·2016 - This is Lisa, Larry's wife. As most of you know, Larry has been very ill for a while but his suffering ended today, 12/13/16. Your friendship meant a lot to him. Connor and I really appreciate your love and support during this difficult time. I will send an update soon with the details about the service and memorials.
  • July 6, 1949 - 13 December 2016 Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero 
    Along with Hugh Thompson and Glenn Andreotta. Leaving behind his wife Lisa and son Connor, his sisters, friends and family around the world. Along with over 100 descendants of the villagers saved in My Lai that day, March 16, 1968. 

  • New York Times
    Lawrence Colburn Dies; Helped End Vietnam's My Lai Massacre
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSDEC. 15, 2016, 9:54 P.M. E.S.T.

    Lisa Colburn, speaking with The Associated Press on Thursday evening, said her husband of 31 years was diagnosed with cancer in late September and died Tuesday.
    "It was very quick," she said by phone from her Canton, Georgia, home near Atlanta. "He was a very peaceful man who had a great desire for there to be a peaceful world."
    She also called him "a compassionate person who was a hero in many people's eyes."
    Colburn was the last surviving member of a U.S. Army crew that ended the My Lai massacre of March 16, 1968. According to accounts, pilot Hugh Thompson landed the helicopter between unarmed villagers and American troops and ordered Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta to cover him.
    Thompson then persuaded members of Charlie Company to stop shooting. The company's soldiers had begun shooting that day even though they hadn't come under attack, authorities later said. They added that it quickly escalated into an orgy of killing that claimed as many as 504 civilians — most of whom were women, children and the elderly.
    In an initial Facebook post, Lisa Colburn confirmed the death and wrote: "As most of you know, Larry has been very ill for a while but his suffering ended today, 12/13/16/." She added: "Your friendship meant a lot to him."
    She added the she and their son, Connor, "appreciate your love and support during this difficult time."
    Trent Angers, the biographer for Thompson, who wrote "The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story," said Colburn played an indispensable role in stopping the massacre at My Lai.
    "He stood up, shoulder to shoulder with Hugh and Glenn, to oppose and stand down against those who were committing crimes against humanity. Without his assistance, Hugh might not have done what he did," Angers said.
    Colburn and Thompson were nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in 2001 for their actions and received the Soldier's Medal, the highest U.S. military award for bravery not involving conflict with the enemy.
    Thompson, who lived in Lafayette, Louisiana, died in 2006. Andreotta was killed in the Vietnam War three weeks after My Lai.
    A memorial service for Colburn is planned Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Darby Funeral Home in Canton, Georgia, the funeral home said on its website. It said that in addition to his wife and son, Colburn is survived by three sisters.

    Soldier's Medal Awarded to Larry and Hugh and to Glenn Posthumously

    Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
    Along with Hugh Thompson 

     Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

     Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
     Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
     Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
    Larry Established the
    Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
    Duc Tran Van and Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, one of the children saved
  • Larry Colburn Passed Away 13 December 2016

Hugh Thompson and Larry Colburn
Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero with Duc Tran Van

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero and Hugh "Buck" Thompson
Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero
Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero and Hugh "Buck" Thompson

Lawrence "Larry" Colburn, My Lai Hero


Thirty-four years ago this coming Saturday, more than 500 unarmed women, children and old men were raped, mutilated and killed by American soldiers on a rampage in the Vietnamese hamlet known as My Lai.

The massacre was stopped when a 24-year-old American helicopter pilot landed in the line of fire between the U.S. troops and Vietnamese civilians. While his 20-year-old crew chief and 18-year-old gunner covered his back, the pilot confronted one of the leaders of the massacre, then evacuated 10 villagers from a bunker. The crew also rescued a child clinging to his dead mother in a ditch.

When you are young, terrified, far from home and surrounded by craziness, how do you hang onto your moral compass? How do you develop one in the first place?

That's what we asked Lawrence Colburn, the helicopter gunner, who was born in Coulee City, grew up on Whidbey Island and in Mount Vernon, and joined the Army in 1966.

As American soldiers fight a war in Central Asia where boundaries and enemies can be similarly unclear, Colburn, now 52, offers this advice to young soldiers: "Beware of peer pressure that moves you in the wrong direction."

This is Colburn's story, in his own words, distilled from recent conversations with Pacific Northwest magazine writer Paula Bock.

From early on, Colburn says his parents instilled in their children a strong sense of right and wrong. Here, Harry Colburn holds baby Colleen after church on Easter Sunday on Whidbey Island. In front: Sheila, Mary and Larry (about 4 years old).

I THINK FROM age 7, people know what's right and wrong. By 18, even under a lot of stress, you know what the right thing is and you know what's wrong and try to follow your heart and do what's right, no matter what the circumstances.
From early on, Colburn says his parents instilled in their children a strong sense of right and wrong. Here, Harry Colburn holds baby Colleen after church on Easter Sunday on Whidbey Island. In front: Sheila, Mary and Larry (about 4 years old).

I guess I was just a normal kid. Two elder sisters, one younger. They tell me I was spoiled because I was the only boy, which could be true. I played baseball and spent a lot of time fishing on the Skagit River, salmon and steelhead. After my chores were done on Saturday, we'd ride our bikes down to the sandbar and fish all day. Skiing was also a passion. Did some duck hunting, too.

My early memories are Whidbey Island, Deception Pass, the San Juan Islands. My father was a civilian working for the Navy on Whidbey Island. He was an engineer and he built runways. Before World War II, he worked on Grand Coulee, so he knew concrete.

My parents moved to Mount Vernon to put us into Catholic school by fourth grade, Immaculate Conception. I was an altar boy for four years; memorized a lot of Latin.

My father was in France for 3 1/2 years. He landed on Normandy Beach five days after D-Day. My mother said when he came back he was a different person. He was that WWII stoic, very quiet, kept everything inside, a bit of a loner. But he was a very moral man. I remember him telling me, before Martin Luther King, Jr., said it: "You don't judge a man by the color of his skin. You judge him by his heart." My father was tough but he was fair. He had a very strong work ethic and my mother was strong, too, and always home. We had an intact family.

I listened to the JFK speech in '61. I wasn't even a teenager. I remember sitting in front of a black and white television set: "Ask not what your country can do for you."

Maybe that was it. Or too many John Wayne movies. I felt obligated to serve. My father passed away when I was 14. The only thing anybody told me (it was the parish priest or one of my uncles): "Well, you're the man of the family now."

What do men normally do? They go off to war. 

It was small-town America, and young men tend to seek adventure. Do their duty. I was a wild child after my father died; I didn't want to continue that way and burden my mother too much.

I joined with a bunch of friends. It was a popular thing to do at the time. Went to Fort Lewis for basic training, Fort Polk for advanced training, Hawaii, then 16 days on a boat to Vietnam. I decided to volunteer for an aviation company. It was extra money, combat pay plus flight pay.

We were an aerial scout unit, so we would fly tree top or below. We were basically bait. "Please shoot at me so we can get the gunships or artillery on you."

We were flying in an OH23. Crew chief on the left (Glenn Andreotta), gunner on the right (me) and pilot in the middle (Hugh Thompson). You'd put on body armor and helmet, carry an M60 machine gun on a bungee cord, find the target and then get out of the way.

You felt full of adrenaline and invincible. But then, I can remember the first time I saw an aircraft go down. They scrambled us to retrieve the bodies. It was one of those monsoon days, we were losing light and we were flying out there thinking we're probably next. Then it set in. This is not high-school football, this is not a game. People die.

What happened to me and a lot of people: You start feeling a need to take revenge. It can be motivating in a perverting sort of way. You become filled with rage. That's what motivated those people in My Lai. 

• • •

AFTER THREE MONTHS in Vietnam, Charlie Company (Task Force Barker, 11th Brigade, Americal Division), had suffered 28 casualties, including five killed, and was down to 105 men. All the casualties were from mines, booby traps and snipers rather than battles in which troops could clearly identify an enemy. The day after a booby trap killed a popular sergeant, Charlie Company was given orders to invade an area believed to be a North Vietnamese stronghold. Though it is generally agreed commanders ordered soldiers to destroy the villages and "neutralize" the area, there is controversy over whether the directive included killing civilians. The U.S. military's official report found that "from 16-19 March 1968, U.S. Army troops massacred a large number of noncombatants in two hamlets of Son My Village, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. The precise number of Vietnamese killed cannot be determined but was at least 175 and may exceed 400." Later reports tallied 504.

• • •

"Words cannot describe" how Colburn felt last year when he and pilot Hugh Thompson, left, were reunited with the little boy they rescued 33 years earlier. Do Hoa called the vets "Poppa" and bonded with Colburn's son, Connor.

WE WENT OUT at 7:30 in the morning. Village called My Lai 4. The military referred to it as Pinkville. It was just another mission. Started out like all of them.

I remember flying between two treelines. You could smell the jungle, the fog rising up. It was a beautiful morning.

You know, we owned the day, they owned the night.
We flew over the village a couple times. I remember seeing the slicks, the Hueys, bringing Charlie Company in. Our objective was to make sure the perimeter was clear.
It was Saturday, which was market day. We saw a lot of people leaving the village with empty containers and baskets, moving slowly, walking down this road, probably like they did every Saturday morning for generations. We went outside the hamlet and reconned around for 15 or 20 minutes and when we came back, those people we saw on the road were still there, only they were all dead. Women, children and older men.
Oh, the children. That's what struck all of us. It appeared to be automatic weapons fire, small arms, from pretty close range. When a high-velocity round hits a child, there's not a lot of mass there and yeah, it was grotesque. Sure. Babies. Lying with their mothers and grandmothers. Baskets right there.
That's when Mr. Thompson, we all, started trying to figure out what happened. The last thing we wanted to admit to ourselves was that it was our own men.
People had been herded up systematically, made to get down in this irrigation ditch, and they were executed. We started marking some of the bodies that were still alive with green smoke, (dropping smoke grenades from the helicopter) so the medics on the ground could help them. We marked this one woman who had chest wounds. She was moving one arm, feebly, asking for help, so we marked her. Mr. Thompson backed up 20, 30 feet and hovered there 10 feet off the ground because he saw a soldier coming over to her. That was (Capt. Ernest) Medina. We pointed down to her. He kicked her, stepped back and blew her away right in front of us. That's when we simultaneously said something like: "You son of a bitch." Then we knew. The mystery was solved. It was people from Charlie Company.
Mr. Thompson was determined to stop this. He landed and said to one of the soldiers standing by the ditch, "What can we do to help these people out?"
The fellow said, "We can help them out of their misery."
Hugh said, "C'mon man." 
The first time he saw another chopper go down, Colburn, far right, realized, "This is not a game. People die."
As we lifted off, we heard automatic weapons fire. Glenn said, "My God, he's firing into the ditch again." Wounded people were climbing out of the ditch and they were shooting them. We checked other people we'd marked and sure enough, they'd been finished off. It felt like by marking these bodies, we were indirectly killing them ourselves.
They raped the women with M16s, bayonets. They sodomized children. They decapitated people. They killed a monk, threw him down a well with hand grenades. It was so obscene. They did everything but eat the people.
I didn't join the Army to do that sort of thing, even if they were sympathizers.
And God bless the men on the ground. We would have given our lives on any day, any moment for them. Glenn did three weeks later; he was shot in the head on a mission.
But just like in public life, you got a percentage of wackos. (At My Lai) their leaders didn't stop them. We're talking about 30 guys led by Commanders Lt. Stephen Brooks, Lt. William Calley and Capt. Medina. It was extremely poor leadership. Instead of nipping it in the bud, they escalated it.
• • •
WE SAW SOME people in a bunker. There was a squad coming their way. We could see the kids peeking out, little kids with Prince Valiant haircuts, black bangs, black pajamas and sandals. 
Colburn, left, and Thompson return to meet the children of My Lai in 1998. "He's the real hero," Colburn says of the pilot, who put his body in the line of fire and confronted higher-ranking officers to save villagers.
Thompson landed again. Glenn and I got out of the aircraft, took out the guns. Hugh walked over to this lieutenant (Brooks), and I could tell they were in a shouting match. I thought they were going to get in a fist fight. He told me later what they said:
Thompson: Let's get these people out of this bunker and get 'em out of here.
Brooks: We'll get 'em out with hand grenades.
Thompson: I can do better than that. Keep your people in place. My guns are on you.
Hugh was outranked, so this was not good to do, but that's how committed he was to stopping it.
He walked back to the aircraft. He said: "I'm going to go over and get them out of the bunker myself. If the squad opens up on them, shoot 'em." And he walked away.
Glenn and I looked at each other. We looked at the GIs we were supposed to protect, we looked at Thompson.
A million things were going through my mind. The first thing, I wanted no one to think I was going to raise an M60 machine gun and draw on them. Or they'd draw on us. I remember pointing my muzzle straight at the ground so there'd be no mistake. We had a little staredown but I caught one guy's eye and I kinda waved, thinking, hey, fellow American, and he waved back. 
Of the many involved in the My Lai massacre, Lt. William Calley was the only man found guilty. The Army charged him with murdering 109 civilians and sentenced him to life in prison with hard labor. Within three days, President Nixon ordered him released from jail pending appeal. He was under house arrest three years.

Hugh went to the entrance of this little earthen bunker and motioned for the people to come out. It took a few minutes.
He kept his body in between Lt. Brooks and the people he'd gotten out of the bunker, got them over to our aircraft, and got on the radio with his buddy, the gunship pilot who was circling above: "Danny, do me a favor. Can you come down here? Can you shuttle some of these people out of here before they get killed?"
They landed. This is unheard of, to land a gunship and use it as a medivac. Makes you a sitting duck. Breaks all kind of military rules. But Hugh had thrown caution to the winds.
We passed over the ditch one more time and Glenn said: "I saw something move." Hugh landed again and Glenn charged in there, mired above his knees in what was once human beings. Maybe 175 people stacked three or four high. He picked this little fellow up but couldn't get out of the ditch because it was hard to get footing so he handed the child up to me and I grabbed him by the back of his shirt. I remember thinking: I hope the buttons are sewn on well because they're going to have to support his weight.
The child sat on my lap, limp. He had that blank thousand-yard stare. I couldn't even make him blink. He was in severe shock. He had no broken bones, no bullet holes, but he was completely drenched in blood. When Glenn picked him up, he was still clinging to his dead mother. We flew the little person to Quang Ngai hospital, an orphanage. A Catholic nun came out in her habit. Hugh took him and gave him to the nun. "Sister, I don't know what you're going to do with him. I don't think he's got any parents."
We left him there and flew away.
For 30 years, I prayed he was only 4 or 5 so he wouldn't remember, but when I met him (in 2001), I found out he was 8 and he remembers everything. (Do Ba) You talk about someone to admire. This little boy stayed at the hospital for two days, then, on his own, left and went 10 miles through the jungle to his village to make sure his parents were buried properly.
• • •
ONLY 10 percent of men who go to war actually feel the sting. Most men are in support. Other combat veterans know exactly what I mean. Unless you saw it, smelled it, lived it, you're not capable of understanding. 
Thirty years after the My Lai massacre, in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, the Army awarded Soldier's Medals to Thompson, center, and Colburn, right, for "heroic performance in saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of noncombatants by American forces."
Everyone has a breaking point. (Varnado Simpson, a veteran from Charlie Company who was wracked with remorse after the massacre and eventually committed suicide) talked about how once you start killing, it just got easier and easier, the training just kicks in.
Part of you has to be free. You can't be owned by the military. Every time I had to take someone down, it was never easy. The gun company I was in had an unwritten code: Before you make a kill, they better be trying to kill you. To capture a weapon after a kill was important to us. Go get their weapon so it's not picked up by another person and used against you. You can almost justify in your own mind: I had to do this and here is something tangible to prove it.
How many people did you take down?
That's kind of a personal question. (Long pause.) We used to have to keep track on a chalkboard, so I do know . . . Too many. I remember one man carrying an AK who broke from a crowd of people and ran and there was a boy, probably his son, that followed him. And they were so close together. I didn't want to kill the boy. But they were both shot. There are certain kills I wish went differently.
There were those who lived by a different code. Shoot first and ask questions later. They were in the field. They didn't get to fly into the sunset and sleep in a bed. They had to spend the nights out there when the VC came alive and had to go on night mission and set up ambushes. I don't know if I could have made it a year in the field.
But My Lai didn't happen at night. They didn't capture any weapons or kill any draft-age males. Also, remember, there were people in Charlie Company who threw down their weapons. They didn't take part, but did they try to stop it? No. Because they have to live with their squad leader, platoon leader and all the men around them for their tour.
I pray that we will evolve. That's what Hugh Thompson did. He tried to take us one step up the evolutionary ladder.
I think we're capable, but I think it's going to take another 10,000 years — if we can keep from blowing ourselves to smithereens.
(Colburn says the deployment of troops to Afghanistan has set off inner warning bells.)
I despise war. I want that to come across, but then again, I don't want to sound like I'm un-American. If this country were in trouble, I can still peel potatoes. I can still fly. If I had a chance to serve and protect my country, I would. But to get involved in another civil war in another country — a culture we don't understand?
Did we learn anything from Vietnam? People were waving flags when we started sending men to Southeast Asia and when thousands of body bags started coming home, the flag waving stopped. I fear for the safety of our young men and women. The last thing I want to see is another Vietnam. The politicians have to play politics, we have to protect our oil interests and life goes on. That would be war, and here we go again. Only this could be much, much bigger. It could be in more than one country. It could last for a hundred years. These people we're dealing with know what they're doing. They've been planning for years and we've been infiltrated as well. We have to dig out of a pretty deep hole right now. I'm very concerned we will do something stupid out of revenge that we'll regret for generations.
• • •
IT'S A MUCH BETTER feeling to save a life than it is to take one. When I held that little boy and we took him out of there, it was worth everything. Looking back, comparing notes with other vets, I'm sure we did go through different stages of anger, denial, trying to make it go away. The best advice I got was from a professor at Emory (University), making comparisons with the Holocaust. He said, "Larry, you can't make it go away. You will take it to your graveside. What you need to do is turn it around into something positive." 
For 30 years, Colburn prayed the little boy he rescued was too young to remember the massacre. When they met in 2001, Do Hoa described everything. Now 42, he assembles electronics in Ho Chi Minh City for $40 a month. "The clock is ticking!" Colburn says. "I want him to find a wife and have a baby of his own. He wants to be a dad."
We've been working with the Madison Friends (Quakers in Wisconsin). We dedicated an elementary school in My Lai. We're to taking donations for a modest home for Do Hoa (the rescued boy). I've done some speaking in high schools, colleges, military institutions, and we've worked with the International Red Cross.
I see my boy reaching 10 years old, becoming an individual, doing things on his own. Just being there is important. Enjoying family activities as long as you can hold onto them. Support them and also give them a certain amount of freedom. As a parent, you watch this little boy who's going to play bang-bang and want the little green Army men. You can't take that from a child because it's part of his growing up.
Once he was playing battle with little plastic men and I stopped him and said, "You know, that's kinda sad. And he said, 'No, Dad. I'm going to save these people over here.' And I thought, Well, OK!"
I guess we'll see 10 years from now what happens with him. What they're going to do later on in life, you won't know.
Of the many involved in the My Lai massacre, William Calley was the only man the Army found guilty. In 1970, he was convicted of murdering at least 22 and sentenced to life in prison. Within three days, President Nixon ordered his release from jail pending appeal. He lived three years under house arrest, then toured the college lecture circuit and married the daughter of a Georgia jewelry-store owner. He still works at the store.
Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot, served for 13 years after Vietnam and now counsels veterans for Louisiana's Dept. of Veterans Affairs. In 1998, after a BBC documentary and book ("Four Hours in My Lai" by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim) spurred a letter-writing campaign, he was given the Soldier's Medal, the highest award for bravery not involving enemy conflict. He agreed to accept if Andreotta and Colburn also received medals.
Lawrence Colburn owns a medical-supply company outside Atlanta, where he lives with his wife and son.
Glenn Andreotta is honored on panel 48E of the Vietnam Wall.

Paula Bock is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff reporter.