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1968: The Year That Rocked Our World

1968: Interview With Lawrence Colburn

In 1969 Lawrence Colburn quietly became known as one of three U.S. soldiers who helped stop the 1968 My Lai massacre, widely considered one of the darkest moments of the Vietnam War. On March 16 of that year, the men of Charlie Company, among them patrol leader Lieutenant William Calley, opened fire on about 500 civilians, many of them women and children, during a “search and destroy” mission. The next year the world would discover that it was pilot Hugh Thompson, 24, who landed his helicopter between the soldiers and civilians to stop the massacre. Thompson ordered his gunners—Colburn, then 19, and Glenn Andreotta, 20—to fire on U.S. soldiers if they continued the rampage. Meanwhile, Thompson rescued about a dozen civilians inside a bunker and airlifted them to safety with the help of two nearby helicopter gunships. The three soldiers ultimately were awarded the Soldier’s Medal, but Colburn, 58, is the only survivor among them. … Back to Article

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