Monday, June 12, 2017

Howard Jones's "My Lai," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness by Howard Jones.

The entry begins:
On December 13, 2016, Larry Colburn, a Vietnam veteran, died of cancer, the last living member of a three-man helicopter crew who participated in the My Lai operation on March 16, 1968, along with twenty-five-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson (died in 2006) and twenty-year-old Crew Chief Glenn Andreotta (died in combat three weeks after My Lai). Colburn was the youngest of the three, an eighteen-year-old door gunner on a small OH-23 helicopter assigned the task of drawing enemy fire that would expose the Viet Cong’s location to American ground forces.

I was fortunate to interview Larry numerous times while writing my account of the My Lai massacre. He was always generous with his time, detailed in his explanations, and passionate about telling the story accurately and fairly. He was also self-effacing and modest, though the more he told me about what had happened at My Lai, the more humbled I felt in the face of someone who never lost his moral compass in the midst of horrific wrongdoing while enduring far greater personal challenges in life than I could ever imagine.

Early in the morning of that day at My Lai, Thompson saw more than 100 bodies in a ditch and angrily set down his helicopter to talk to the American officer in charge. That officer was 2nd Lieutenant William Calley, who outranked Thompson and made clear that he needed no advice from anyone. Shortly after leaving the scene, the three airmen spotted a squad of American soldiers in pursuit of a small number of Vietnamese villagers—an elderly man and some women and children—fleeing toward an earthen bunker. Once more Thompson landed his craft, this time between the two groups to save the Vietnamese, and ordered Colburn and Andreotta to stay behind with machine guns and shoot any soldiers who fired on him or the Vietnamese. No one interfered. On a final swipe over that same ditch, Andreotta saw life below and, after a hurried landing, waded through the bloody water filled with dead and dying Vietnamese to rescue a young boy who was in shock and clinging to his dead mother. Thompson reported the mass killings to...[read on]
Learn more about My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness at the Oxford University Press website.

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My Book, The Movie: My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue