2 Additional Stats on Vietnam
3 The Myth of the Girl in the Photo
4 The Story of Kim Phouc and Trang Bang as reported by the Stars and Stripes magazine
5 Baltimore Sun Article , on 12/14/97 by reporter Tom Bowman about the Kim Phouc story
6 The untold story of My Lai , 30 years latter.
6a Awarding of the Soliders Medal to the Unknown heros of My Lai
7 Recently declassified documents about Trang Bang.
8 The Story on Kent State
9 A Story from the New York Times about the supposed use of Nerve Gas in Vietnam
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ The stats were reported in the VFW magazine March 93 which had a cover photo from the movie Platoon which depicted troops leaving what was referred to as a Zippo raid. The caption at the top says 20 YEARS AGO THIS MONTH. GIs Close the Curtain On Vietnam. 8,744,000 personnel on active duty from Aug 5 64 to March 28 73. 3,403,1000 including offshore support listed as Vietnam Vets. 6,484 women of which 6,250 were nurses. Here is those statistics. Hostile deaths 47,359, non-hostile deaths 10,797. 8 nurses died with one listed as KIA. Married men killed 17,539. 61% of the men killed were 21 or younger. State with greatest loss West Virginia 84.1 per 100,000 population. National average was 58.9 per 100,000. Wounded and hospitalized 153,329 Amputation or crippling wounds was 300% higher than W.W.II and 70% higher than Korea. That means the severely wounded survived a lot better because of Evacs. Draftees Vs Volunteers 25% of the total forces in country were draftees 648,500 as opposed to 66% of the ones in W.W.II Draftees accounted for 30.4% 17,725 of combat deaths in NAM. Reservists killed was 5,977. The National guard had 6,140 serve with 101 killed Race and Ethnic background 88.4% of the total in NAM were white 10.6% 275,000 were black 1% listed as others 86.3% of those who died were white, which includes Hispanics. 12.5% 7,241 were black. 1.1% were listed as other races. 170,000 Hispanics served in NAM with 3,070 which was 5.2% of the total died there. 86.8% listed as KIA were white; 12.1% 5,711 were black and 1.1% other races 14.6% 1,530 of non-combat deaths were black. 34% of the blacks that enlisted volunteered for infantry. Overall ,blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in NAM when the total percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the population. 76% of the men going to Nam were listed as from low to middle class working families with 3/4 of all families being above poverty level income. 79% of the men had a high school or better education as opposed to 63% for Korea and 45% for W.W.II Average age of a Vietnam Vet was 19 as opposed to 26 for W.W.II 97% of all Vets were honorably discharged. All this info came from those wonderful makers of statistical analysisthe Department of Defense. ======================================= ======================================= Suicide Reports In many of the stories and reports about Vietnam and Vietnam veterans we hear about all the Vets that commited suicide. Please look at this site about Vietnam Myths. ========================================= ========================================= Myth of the Girl in the Photo The Myth Of The Girl In The Photo Ronald N. Timberlake Copyright November 1997 All rights reserved. Anyone who read a newspaper last Veterans Day weekend is likely to have seen one of the many articles about the American bombing of the village of Trang Bang, Viet Nam, with the naked and terrified little girl running toward the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. Again this Veterans Day, at least one network aired a documentary on the story. It is a heart-wrenching photo, and is published with a heart-wrenching story, but if a picture speaks a thousand words, most of the words associated with this photo are false or misleading. What is not true is the story itself. It is a gross misrepresentation that has become a myth that is repeated each Veterans Day. Myth: Americans bombed Trang Bang, Viet Nam, and burned Kim Phuc, the girl in the famous photo. Fact: As stated by the photographer himself, Nick Ut, and clearly shown on film, the Viet Nam Air Force (VNAF) dropped the bombs that hurt Kim. This was witnessed and reported by UPI television correspondent Christopher Wain, and also reported correctly in the 10 June 1972 edition of Stars & Stripes, by noted correspondent Peter Arnett. Other journalists who were not there, through assumption, sloppy work, or malice, have since reported that the attack was by US aircraft, and have further embellished the story recently. Most of the commercials for the recent A&E documentary, and indeed, the host on the broadcast, said that the documentary would show "the American commander who ordered the bombing". That statement is not true. No American commander had anything to do with the bombing. Myth: The bombers attacked the village of Trang Bang. Fact: The fighters were actually striking outside the village, hitting the fortifications of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops that had been prepared just before and during the three day battle. The village itself was not the target of the air strike. Myth: Kim and her family were hurt when the Buddhist pagoda in which they took refuge was bombed, and took a direct hit. Fact: Kim herself has stated that they left the pagoda, to run along the road, when they were hit. The pagoda was not targeted, and was not hit. The "colored markers" she has mentioned were smoke grenades, used to identify the friendly positions, and were not target markers. They were used by the South Vietnamese ground troops to show the location of their own positions to attacking South Vietnamese pilots, not to indicate where the bombs were to be dropped. When Kim and the others, including ARVN soldiers, ran from the pagoda and away from the village, the pilot of a Vietnamese fighter spotted them. The pilot saw people running toward the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN) positions, where the journalists and photographers were also located, and he saw weapons. In a split-second decision to protect the ARVN troops from what he saw as a threat, the Vietnamese pilot diverted from his target and dove to attack the group, as reported by eyewitness UPI television correspondent Christopher Wain. Myth: The fighting was conducted by or included American forces. Fact: Trang Bang, in June of 1972, was an all-Vietnamese fight, with ARVN troops fighting their former and future countrymen, and requesting support from their own air force. American aircraft probably assisted with air support at some time during the three-day battle, but Vietnamese were fighting Vietnamese at Trang Bang, and when Kim was burned, it was they who called for help from Vietnamese flown aircraft. Even the photographer was Vietnamese, although he later became a US citizen. The only Americans involved were two advisors, one an infantry officer with the troops at the scene of battle, and the other in an assistant coordination assignment more than 80 kilometers away. Both officers were in positions with no command authority, and absolutely no authority over Vietnamese troops or aircraft. Myth: A recent report stated that nerve gas was used in the attack. Fact: American or South Vietnamese forces never used nerve gas. The canisters dropped by the VNAF fighter that injured Kim and her countrymen were napalm, a type of jellied gasoline bomb that was developed by our British allies in WWII, to knock out enemy troops in trenches and fortifications. Myth: The bombs killed Kim's two brothers and two cousins. Fact: Two of Kim's cousins died from the bombs that injured Kim, but her brothers were not killed. The same bombs that burned Kim, also hit and burned ARVN soldiers. It should be pointed out that only one sortie, one single bombing run of many those three days, was involved in the accidental bombing. Myth: The American commander or his staff officer ordered the bombing. Fact: There was no American commander at the scene of the fighting, no American commander involved in supporting the battle, and no American commander in the entire country who ordered that strike. It was an all-Vietnamese fight, conducted and controlled by Vietnamese. The Methodist minister who came forward to accept Kim Phuc's forgiveness at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day 1996, is a former American officer, but was NOT a commander, and had no command authority. He was a low level staff officer on the staff of the US Army advisors, in an assignment without authority even to directly coordinate actions with VNAF, much less command, order, or direct any activity. As the battle raged, he was working in a bunker in a secure area more than 80 kilometers from the fighting. His own Commanding General and the Operations Officer of the unit, both now retired General Officers, have been questioned about the event. They clarified that he had no authority, capacity, or capability to order any Vietnamese aircraft to do anything, and say it would not have been possible for him to do what he has claimed. No one on the US staff, or even the Commanding General, could order the VNAF to take any action whatever. The General has stated that if even he, the commander, wanted to coordinate with VNAF, he had to go through General Minh, of the ARVN. The minor staff-officer-turned-preacher so publicly grasping responsibility for the air strike was involved in only a superficial manner. His participation consisted of essentially a clerical action, if he was involved at all. His action could have included absolutely no command or control, nor did he have the authority to hinder VNAF control. Reverend Plummer claims that his bosses are not correct. That an Army captain on an Army staff would have been allowed to influence a VNAF operation is further disputed by the US Air Force CHEKO Report "Linebacker Operations". Linebacker I ran from 10 May 72 17 Dec 72. Quotes page 20: Command, Control, and Communications: " The USAF criticized itself for not correcting an in-grown 'parallel system', one in which U.S. Forces were off on their own conducting the war and another in which the VNAF was doing essentially the same thing on its own The parallel system continued to the end of Linebacker II ." Myth: That famous photo stopped the war. Fact: While it became an icon for the peace movement, by the time of the photo in June of 1972, almost all US ground forces had already been brought home from Viet Nam. By March of 1973, after the signing of the Paris Peace Accord, all US combat forces were out of Viet Nam. The photo was embarrassing to the US government, but extremely damaging to the South Vietnamese government. It was a great propaganda tool for the Communists, and may have done more than any other photo to prevent the US Congress from allowing assistance to the South Vietnamese government when North Viet Nam launched the full scale invasion of that country, in 1975. WHY DOES THE MYTH CONTINUE? Because it is a dramatic photo, but for more than any other reason, because the handlers of the woman whom the little girl has become, arranged for her to go to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial on Veteran's Day of 1996, "to forgive". Did she know that the pilot who bombed her was one of her own countrymen, and not an American? Yes, she did. Did Kim herself say that the pilot was American? She does not have to. She was introduced on Veterans Day by Jan Scruggs, the impetus behind the Memorial, as having been burned in "an American ordered air strike". If you listen to her words, she is careful not to say the pilot was American, but most people assume that since she went to our nation's capitol to forgive him, the pilot must be American. While she herself never says that Americans bombed her, she is careful not to correct the impression given by introductions, or narration during the documentaries, or previous interviews and broadcasts. The audience is encouraged to assume that her injuries are from American action. Even so, her trip of forgiveness to the Wall, would have been a one-time story, if not for a man who has managed to insert himself into the tragedy. The story of the Methodist minister, who tearfully passed the message, "I am that man.", certainly encourages The Myth Of The Girl In The Photo. Indeed, most of the stories since that day say far more about that minister, with his guilt and forgiveness, than they say about Kim. With his claim to be the man who ordered the strike against the village of Trang Bang, his subsequent self-admitted Godlessness and guilt, and his salvation to become a minister of the Methodist Church, he has almost replaced Kim Phuc as the central figure in the myth. It would seem that it is not for lack of trying on his part. This "feel good" message of peace and forgiveness plays well to the American willingness to forgive and forget, and it justifies and soothes the collective conscience of those who were against American involvement in that war. It appears to be a politically sound strategy, which has resulted in Ms. Kim Phuc being appointed an ambassador of goodwill for UNESCO, and the formation of a foundation in the United States, to solicit money in the name of this new Canadian citizen. One might do well to ask for the rest of the story, before sending a check of gratitude for anyone's forgiveness. Ms. Kim's statements may be lovely, but must be viewed with the realization that while she is free to insinuate anything she pleases about the countries which give her refuge and support, she cannot freely criticize the Communist government of her former homeland. While she lives in Canada, some of her relatives still live under the Communist regime in Viet Nam. Because of that, those who introduce Ms. Kim and the Kim Foundation cannot place blame for the misplaced bombs on the Communists, who assaulted the village, and used civilians for cover. The words of the man who took her famous photo - that if the Communists had stayed in the north, none of this would have happened - will never be seen in a documentary about Kim. Nor would the Communists donate money, for they care little about this kind of forgiveness. It is imprudent to offer to forgive the government of South Viet Nam, whose forces conducted the battle to defend the village against the Communists, because that government no longer exists, and cannot contribute anything for the forgiveness. Only the people of the Western Democracies, and the USA most of all, are in a position to feel enough gratitude for this "forgiveness", because of public perceptions of the myth surrounding this story, to respond with their donations and support. According to the producers of one documentary, A&E, the donations flow in each time the story is aired. I urge you to "Follow the dollar" on Kim's story, and ask yourself some very relevant questions: Why would those in charge of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial choose to have Kim come to the memorial on a day that should be set aside to honor Viet Nam veterans? Was her "forgiveness" intended to honor veterans, or advance the cause of certain interests, and elicit sympathy and guilt by making it seem that it was Americans responsible for her injuries? How could her story, especially as presented, reflect well on veterans or our country? Was her story really intended to honor the veterans of the Viet Nam war, or was this entire presentation simply a marketing tool? Just how "spontaneous" was the meeting at The Wall between Kim Phuc and the Methodist minister, the two necessary ingredients in this recipe for "forgiveness" and heart-warming publicity? Do you believe this meeting was "God's work", or was pre-orchestrated by someone else? Would some of these questions be answered if it turned out that some of the same people associated with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, are associated with or actually a part of the Kim Foundation? Follow the dollar, and the trail will lead to answers. Be warned that the answers will not be comfortable for anyone who wants to believe in "The Miracle At The Wall". Although Ms. Kim may still be a victim, she certainly is not being exploited by our country, or by honorable veterans. Times have also improved for the Methodist minister. During the year since he came forward to share what he grasped as his responsibility for the agony of the little girl, this minister of a small country church has addressed more people than he had addressed in his entire life, prior to that day at The Wall. His public claims have given him a sort of celebrity status within the church, and he is in demand as a speaker for his "ministry of forgiveness". The minister has stated that he has never sought publicity, but that publicity sought him. That seems odd, since he and Kim were involved in setting up the meeting far in advance of Veterans Day. It would seem that since Kim Phuc knew that she would be meeting him that day, a man not seeking publicity would choose to meet in a less public place than the crowded Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on its busiest day of the year. Instead, while maintaining he did not to want the publicity, they chose to meet near the cameras and microphones of the media representatives there to record Kim's offer of forgiveness, to the country and the men who did NOT burn her. Only the Canadian documentary crew participated in the initial meeting of these two "victims", apparently in accordance with their contract with Kim. It was left to the mainstream media to seek out and "uncover" the story later. The cooperation between the producers of the Canadian documentary, those in charge of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and a Methodist minister who seeks "no" publicity, has resulted in a myth of epic proportions. The story that they and the Reverend made from this, has caused pain to the Vietnamese poet who was originally the intermediary for the meeting, and for all who know the myth for what it is. Personal guilt is something borne sooner by some than others, and few could deny the right to feel whatever personal responsibility one might care to feel for having been even remotely involved in any way with this incident. Personal responsibility, however, entails a personal forgiveness, and not a contrived public confession that implies that the Myth Of The Girl In The Photo is true. To some, this seems to be a story where everyone wins. For certain people, perhaps but not for the memory of the men who fought and died in Viet Nam, and certainly not for the well being of the ones who fought and tried to come back home. For the dead, it is only the memories of their comrades and still-grieving families that continue to suffer unnecessarily. For those yet alive, Veterans Day now brings the reminder that no matter how well and honorably they served their country, they have to continue to live with the myth of the little girl in the photo, and the legacy that widespread belief in the myth still engenders. The world press once again says, through stories that rely on hyped-up reports exaggerated for a quarter of a century, rather than a proper investigation of easily available fact, that these veterans and their country did that terrible thing to the cute little girl. A small-town minister accepts the blame for all of us, when he cries the statement that is not true, "I am the one responsible for the girl's agony." Because of that, all veterans have to see her pain, and feel her pain, and know that the people of their own country, and the people of the world, are once again being told, erroneously, that they are the ones who did that terrible deed. For supporting information please go to Recently declassified documents about Trang Bang. ========================================= ========================================= Stars and Stripes Report The following is from the Stars and Stripes magazine reporting the entire event and a followup story by Peter Arnett. Stars & Stripes Pacific edition June 10, 1972 (With the famous photo.) In South Vietnam, a battalion of Viet Cong troops firing rifles and tossing grenades captured a hamlet Thursday and a marketplace an hour's drive from Saigon and cut one of the key highways linking South Vietnam and Cambodia. UPI television correspondent Christopher Wain, who watched the battle, said a South Vietnamese bomber dropped napalm by mistake on civilians trying to flee the fighting. "We knew what was going to happen and there was nothing we could do to stop it from happening." Wain said. "That was the worst part." Troops of the Viet Cong's K1 Battalion attacked the Cho Nho marketplace on the outskirts of Trang Bang town and the nearby hamlet of Gio Loc 30 miles northwest of Saigon early Thursday sending thousands of civilians fleeing for cover. A company of communists dug bunkers in the marketplace, and two more companies set up fighting positions around the hamlet, waiting for government troops to counterattack. Three South Vietnamese infantry battalions backed by government Skyraider bombers moved in during the late morning in an attempt to oust the entrenched Viet Cong troops. Wain said the bombing and ground fire appeared to be taking a heavy toll among the Communists but by afternoon the Viet Cong were still in control of both places and the government counterattack had slowed down. Wain said the fighting in the hamlet and marketplace, which straddle Route 1, closed the key highway running from Saigon to Phnom Penh. He said during the fighting at Gio Loc one of the government Skyraiders dropped four bombs 300 yards from the Communist lines near where government troops and civilians were taking cover. Soldiers and civilians made a dash across Highway 1 for safety, he said, and a South Vietnamese pilot, apparently thinking the fleeing men, women and children were Viet Cong, dove and dropped the napalm canisters on them. Wain said he saw four children and one woman burned by napalm. South Vietnamese officers said five government soldiers were also burned, but newsmen at the scene saw only two or three of them. One little girl ripped all of the clothing off her body and ran naked with several other children crying and screaming. The skin was burned off her back. An old woman clutched her charred child, seeking help. ----------------------------- Peter Arnett wrote his own story, which was more "journalistic", but said very little about the attack: Trang Bang was the scene Thursday of a mistaken napalm attack by South Vietnamese Air Force planes. Canisters of blazing jellied gasoline fell on civilians and troops alike, and 10 persons, children, women, men and soldiers, were killed or injured. ================================================= ================================================= Baltimore Sun Article about Kim Phouc Veteran's admission to napalm victim a lie Minister says he never meant to deceive with `story of forgiveness' through the street, her body covered with burning napalm, became a symbol of the horror of the Vietnam War." By Tom Bowman SUN NATIONAL STAFF WASHINGTON -- She is a grim icon of the Vietnam War: A 9-year-old girl running down a village road, napalm scorching all but her scream, her agony portrayed on the front pages of the world's newspapers. At a Veteran's Day ceremony last year in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Kim Phuc said in halting English that if she ever meets the pilot who dropped the bomb she would urge him to join her in working for world peace. "I am that man," John Plummer hastily wrote on a scrap of paper that was passed up to her. Minutes later the former Army captain was embracing Phuc, sobbing that he was sorry. Responded Phuc, "I forgive you." A heart-rending tale, one that has since gained heavy media attention. But Plummer's part in it isn't true. Neither Plummer nor any other American piloted the plane that day, June 8, 1972. The pilot was a South Vietnamese air force officer. Since the ceremony at the Wall, Plummer, a 50-year-old Methodist minister in rural Purcellville, Va., has revised his tale,though continuing to exaggerate it. Appearing on ABC'S "Nightline" in June, he told Ted Koppel that he "ordered" the raid on Phuc's village of Trang Bang. An October cover story under his byline in Guideposts, an international religious magazine, referred to "the attack I had called." And in a documentary that aired last month on the Arts & Entertainment Network, he said: "Every time I saw that picture, I said, `I did that. I'm responsible.' " In fact, the North Carolina native flew helicopters, not fixed-wing aircraft of the type that dropped the napalm, though at the time he was in a staff job. Nor did he have the authority to order his own country's planes into action, let alone South Vietnamese aircraft, say his former superiors. Plummer, they say, was a low-level staff officer. The entire operation was run by South Vietnam's military, with Americans playing only an advisory role. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Information update to this article (((Please referance my , "CAVMAN's" research info at Recently declassified documents about Trang Bang. for more information))) Article now continues +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ In an interview at Bethany United Methodist Church, where he is the pastor, Plummer conceded that he was neither the pilot nor the one who ordered the attack. He said he never intended to deceive anyone but was caught up in the emotion at the Wall that day. He attributed his later comments -- to "Nightline" and others -- about ordering the attack to "semantics," saying the Guideposts article contained words he did not write. He continues to have a "very real feeling" that he was responsible for the airstrike, he said. I think I could have been misinterpreted, but I did not intentionally misrepresent my role," Plummer said. "When I used the words, I was thinking about the story of Kim and me. All I was thinking about was telling the story of Kim's forgiveness." Phuc, living in Toronto and representing Unesco as a goodwill ambassador, did not return repeated messages seeking comment. Plummer was miles from the village that day, at the Bien Hoa air base, where -- according to his own records -- he assisted in preparing bombing plans. A captain at the time, he said he relayed coordinates and other data from a field adviser to another American officer, who passed the information on to a South Vietnamese officer, who radioed the flight line to send the bombers into the sky. `Very incensed about it' Some Vietnam veterans are troubled and bitter by the publicity Plummer has generated in the past year, saying he has injected himself into a searing tragedy as the key player when his role was a minor one. Plummer says he has told his "story of forgiveness" to some 30 veterans, civic and religious groups, as well as numerous reporters, accepting only expenses. He has another half-dozen invitations, with trips planned to Minnesota and Oregon. Plummer's story has also heated up an Internet chat group of Vietnam-era helicopter pilots, with some arguing that Plummer is perpetuating a myth that the United States napalmed Kim Phuc -- when in fact it was her own countrymen. "I don't mind a ministry of forgiveness, but John's basing it on the fact that he did something he didn't do," said Ron Timberlake, a decorated helicopter pilot in Vietnam who lives in Texas. "He's taking the blame for something that makes Americans and Vietnam veterans look bad." Words like "responsible" continue to grate on Vietnam veterans, who say that it is incorrect and furthers a stereotype of Vietnam veterans as killers and maimers of children. "I'm very incensed about it, and a lot of other people are incensed about it," said Robert Witt, a former helicopter pilot who served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. "The guy is using this for his own aggrandizement." B. G. Burkett, a Dallas stockbroker and Vietnam veteran, has made a second career of unmasking men who claim to be Vietnam veterans or who exaggerate their roles. His book on the issue, "Stolen Valor," co-written with Glenna Whitley, is due out in the spring. "You'll see how some guys project themselves into events," said Burkett, who did not previously know about Plummer. "They may have some connection; they know the story." Plummer's former superiors at the 3rd Regional Assistance Command, which was located outside Saigon and advised South Vietnam's III Corps, said in interviews that they are puzzled by Plummer's description of his role. "I think he's stretching things the wrong way. He doesn't order aircraft," said retired Maj. Gen. Niles J. Fulwyler, who in June 1972 was a colonel and the chief of operations, with a staff of 15 that included Plummer. "If he was coordinating anything it was at a damn low level. They're just so many inconsistencies in what he's said." The regional U.S. commander at that time, retired Lt. Gen. James F. Hollingsworth, said even he couldn't order Vietnamese planes into the air and described a captain such as Plummer as a "handyman" for Fulwyler, the operations chief. Plummer and others of his rank "would have no authority to order anyone to do anything," Hollingsworth said. `I still feel the connection' * Plummer wondered aloud in an interview, in which he was alternately testy and defensive, why some are questioning his feelings of responsibility. I felt tremendous remorse that a little girl was hurt in something I was involved in, remote as it may be," said Plummer. Asked if he was now agreeing his role had been "remote," as others insist, he replied: "I still feel the connection to what happened there -- because I was involved in the process." A few days after the bombing, he said, he saw the picture of Phuc in the armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes. He realized, he said, that he had made "a terrible gaffe." The tragedy haunted him and "ruined my life" for a decade, he aid. He drank heavily and saw two marriages crumble. After marrying for a third time, he said, he turned his life around and became more religious, finally leaving a job with a defense contractor for a career in the ministry. And as his Jeep Cherokee in front of the stone church attests, his two tours in Vietnam are still very much a part of him. His Virginia tag reads CAVLRY and includes a Bronze Star emblem. The plate's metal border reads "Black Horse 11th U.S. Cavalry," his old helicopter unit. Small metal wings are affixed to the back windshield. "Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association," says the bright yellow bumper sticker. Last year, he said, when he and others planned on being at the Wall for Veteran's Day, one of them told Plummer that Kim Phuc would be there. "That's when I first began to understand and feel that God was orchestrating this," he said. "After all those years, Kim and I were finally going to be drawn together at the same place at the same time." Asked why he wrote "I am that man" on the note, Plummer paused for a long moment, then said: "Maybe I attached myself to the events that day. Maybe I was saying in that note that even though I wasn't the pilot that dropped the bombs, I am responsible for the bombs being there. I was in such a precarious psychological and emotional condition, I guess." But Plummer says he only wanted to apologize to Kim for his own role and was not interested in publicizing it. Asked why he then did so, he said that when he told his tale on the Internet and at a Virginia ministers meeting two months after the ceremony, he realized "the power of that story" and how it changed lives and made people forgive. "That's why I came forward," he said. "That's why I did `Nightline.' " "The veterans who are upset about this, they focus in on every word I use," he continued. "Since then, I've been very careful about how I use the words." And someday he hopes to gain a wider audience for what happened at Trang Bang. "I would like to write a book about forgiveness," he said, "and obviously this story is going to be part of it." Originally Published on 12/14/97 Web site for the Baltimore Sun Newspaper ================================================= ================================================= Baltimore Sun Article about My Lai Massacre The Massacre at My Lai ,30 years latter Saturday, November 29, 1997 By Tom Bowman The Baltimore Sun ---------------------------------------------- WASHINGTON -- Sixteen months after the Army approved a medal for the unsung hero of the 1968 My Lai massacre, Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr. is scheduled to present the award in a private ceremony in his office next week. But a dispute is threatening to jeopardize the ceremony, set for Wednesday, to honor Hugh C. Thompson Jr. Thompson, who as an Army helicopter pilot saved the lives of My Lai villagers and alerted superiors to the carnage and thus helped end it, prefers a public ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Of a public ceremony, Thompson said yesterday from his home in Louisiana: "That's what I thought it was always going to be. I thought the appropriate place would be the Wall." He also said, in reference to holding the ceremony in West's office, "If they want to have it in the back corner and not have anybody there, I don't know what's going to happen." Thompson is scheduled to receive the coveted Soldier's Medal, denoting heroism and the voluntary risking of life. But he is requesting that the two crew members with him that day, Larry Colburn and the late Glenn Andreotta, also be awarded Meritorious Service Medals, signifying outstanding noncombat achievement. "I think Larry deserves a medal," Thompson said, adding thatAndreotta -- who was killed in Vietnam a month after My Lai -- should receive one posthumously. "We were a team." Should the Army refuse to award Colburn a medal, Thompson said, he would ask that his old gunner -- rather than West -- pin on his Soldier's Medal. "If they refuse to give him an award, that's what I will ask for," he said. Asked whether he intended to turn down the invitation to West's office if his requests were not met, Thompson said: "I haven't done that yet. They're supposed to call back Monday." Dove Schwartz, an Army spokesman, would say only that Army officials are completing details for the ceremony. "No one here has anything to say on that until Monday," Schwartz said. The My Lai massacre occurred on March 16, 1968, when an Army platoon led by Lt. William L. Calley Jr. went on a murderous rampage against a village of Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaboration with the Viet Cong. Calley was convicted of 22 murders. Estimates of civilians killed range as high as 500. The morning of the massacre, Thompson, a warrant officer, was flying his helicopter -- with Colburn and Andreotta aboard -- over the village of My Lai when he saw a trench filled with bodies. He landed his aircraft, confronted the more senior Calley, and was later credited with saving more than a dozen villagers huddled in a bunker. Returning to headquarters, he told his superiors what was happening at My Lai, and they ordered a cease-fire. Lt. Gen. W. R. Peers, who led the official inquiry into the massacre, wrote of Thompson: "If there was a hero at My Lai, he was it." Thompson's efforts to save the villagers and end the killing were largely unknown at the time of the massacre. The Army approved the Soldier's Medal for him in August 1996, but the presentation was stalled by internal Army politics. Until Tuesday, Thompson said yesterday, he had not even been officially told that the medal had been approved. Sources said the Army feared that a public ceremony and the attendant publicity might rekindle interest in My Lai. David Egan, a Clemson University professor of architecture who had spearheaded a nine-year effort to gain the Soldier's Medal for Thompson, and several retired Army generals have been pressing for a public ceremony, either at the U.S. Military Academy or the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. "I was shocked and profoundly saddened to learn the secretary of the Army is attempting to schedule a private medal presentation," Egan said yesterday. A private ceremony "likely will lead the public to erroneously conclude the Army is ashamed to honor Thompson for his moral courage. Thompson said that if he is the only member of his helicopter crew to receive a medal, he may leave it at the Vietnam memorial. "I'll bring the medal to the Wall and tape it on Andreotta's name," he said. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Originally Published on 11/29/97 =========================================== ===========================================
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