Hero or Traitor? Hugh Thompson RIP

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by Daisy, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Daisy

    Daisy
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    Hugh Thompson died last week. He was renown, or reviled, for his part in the My Lai massacre.
    Thompson threatened to shoot American soldiers if they harmed the Vietnamese civilians who were hiding in a bunker, although he did not point his gun. The civilians were flown to safety. Thompson later testified at the Congressional hearings and at Lt. Calley's court martial (he served three years, then was released by Nixon).

    In 1989, Thompson's Distinguished Flying Cross was replaced by the Soldier's Medal.
    More: CNN Interview (linkie)

    On January 6, he died of cancer.

    So is he a hero for saving the villagers and for telling the truth or is he a traitor for testifying against his comrades-in-arms?
     
  2. pinoybaptist

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    From what I have read about My Lai, there were two of them.
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

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  4. larry9179

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    No soldier is required to obey an unlawful order. That's something we were taught in basic training - and I'm a VietNam era G.I. Any officer or NCO that gives such an order is acting outside of the authority of their office and does not have to be obeyed. None of those soldiers should have obey Calley. Obeying orders didn't work for the soldiers abusing terrorist criminals in Iraq and it certainly doesn't work when you're killing civilians. That's what makes an American soldier different from the enemy.

    Thompson did the right thing, but that doesn't make him a hero, just an American soldier.
     
  5. Daisy

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    Were you trained before or after the My Lai massacre?

    The reason I ask is that while I was researching this, I'm pretty sure that I had read that before this incident it was illegal to disobey an order - which put soldiers of conscience in a nearly impossible position in cases such as these. Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark the reference and I could not vouch for its legitimacy - but perhaps you know.

    From what I read, the soldiers who chose not to participate (but didn't actually oppose) were punished by those in charge. My impression is that the idea of the group being more important than the individual is drilled into soldiers, so to not go along with what the group is doing in combat would take a strong will. To actively stand against it, I think, is heroic.
     
  6. carpro

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    An officer or senior NCO on the ground with the courage of Thompson may hjave prevented My Lai entirely , or at least stopped it sooner.

    Definitely a hero.
     
  7. carpro

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    Were you trained before or after the My Lai massacre?

    The reason I ask is that while I was researching this, I'm pretty sure that I had read that before this incident it was illegal to disobey an order - which put soldiers of conscience in a nearly impossible position in cases such as these. Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark the reference and I could not vouch for its legitimacy - but perhaps you know.

    From what I read, the soldiers who chose not to participate (but didn't actually oppose) were punished by those in charge. My impression is that the idea of the group being more important than the individual is drilled into soldiers, so to not go along with what the group is doing in combat would take a strong will. To actively stand against it, I think, is heroic.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I believe you are mistaken. The standard for obeying lawful orders even if stupid or deadly to yourself was to obey and complain later.

    The standard for obviously unlawful orders such as being ordered to commit murder was to refuse to obey in the first place.
     

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