Hugh Thompson, Jr., a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow GIs during the My Lai massacre, died early Friday. He was 62.

Thompson, whose role in the 1968 massacre did not become widely known until decades later, died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria . . .  

"These people were looking at me for help, and there was no way I could turn my back on them," Thompson recalled in a 1998 Associated Press interview.

Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, Thompson, door-gunner Lawrence Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta came upon U.S. ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai.  They landed the helicopter in the line of fire between American troops and fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pointed their own guns at the U.S. soldiers to prevent more killings.  Colburn and Andreotta had provided cover for Thompson as he went forward to confront the leader of the U.S. forces.  Thompson coaxed civilians out of a bunker so they could be evacuated and then landed his helicopter again to pick up a wounded child they transported to a hospital. Their efforts led to the cease-fire order at My Lai.  [Associated Press story printed in the Daytona News Journal, January 10, 2006.]  "Lieutenant Calley, the most prominent My Lai participant, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but he was freed by Richard Nixon after three years of house arrest" [Robert C. Koehler. "Are We the Good Guys?" Daytona Beach News-Journal, January 15, 2006, p. 3B.].     

This site [http://wernerhartenstein.tripod.com/ ] is dedicated to honouring the memory of Werner Hartenstein, commander of German submarine U-156, who undertook one of the most remarkable sea rescue missions of World War II, known as the Laconia Incident.

"I have nothing but reverence and fondness for the memory of Werner Hartenstein... He saved my life."
Dr. Tony Large [survivor of the incident]

"Hartenstein was a man of honour and humanity…When he spoke it was in a very gentle manner…I liked the man. I liked his approach… As a captain myself, I would say Werner Hartenstein was my friend."
Captain David Cledlyn Jones

22.00 hours, September 12 1942.  Hartenstein's U-Boat, U-156, sank the liner "Laconia."  Hartenstein surfaced, took on survivors, draped a white red-cross flag over his cannon, and proceeded on a rescue mission, several boats in tow.  At Admiral Dönitz' orders, other U-boats joined the rescue mission.  Click on the link http://wernerhartenstein.tripod.com to find out more about that "Laconia" incident, about the attack on the rescue mission, and about the subsequent consequences.

The Discovery Channel also offers a narrative and witness accounts of the incident as part of its documentary about the U-Boat War in the Atlantic.

Police Officer Wilhelm Krützfeld was on duty on the "Night of Broken Glasses" [Kristallnacht].  He was patrolling the area around the New Synagogue [Neue Synagoge] in Berlin.  When some brown-shirts (S.A.) wanted to set fire to the building, Krützfeld forced them with drawn gun to cease and desist. Then he called the fire department to extinguish the fire.  The New Synagogue fell prey to Allied bombing of Berlin much later. The cupola has been rebuilt.  If you visit it, you will find a memorial display to Wilhelm Krützfeld. I have some additional links to Krützfeld on the ethics menu. [from the account at the "Neue Synagoge" memorial]
Mr. Theodor Wüllenkemper rescued a British pilot from a mob of German citizens.  The town had been under bombing attack the night before; the people were very angry and upset and extremely hostile.  Wüllenkemper drove his jeep to the pilot, picked him up, and removed him from harm's way.  According to Mr. Wüllenkemper, the rescued pilot was grateful enough to seek out the German pilot who had rescued him, gave him as reward for his decency a Tigermoth aircraft, with which Wüllenkemper developed a company for aerial advertisement in post-war Germany beginning with banner towing and consisting today largely of airship operations.  Mr. Wüllenkemper lives in Mülheim, Germany, and has been a member of ERAU's Board of Trustees.  This is my rendition of his narrative--R.S. Mr. Wüllenkemper died February 6, 2012.
A Connecticut community is thankful that an Embry-Riddle student spent his Thanksgiving with them after he helped rescue seven mentally disabled adults and their driver from a van sinking in a frigid river.  Phillip James of Daytona Beach was honored by police officers this week with a plaque and a ceremony in Stamford, Connecticut.  City Police Lieutenant Sean Cooney said that the people trapped in the van might have perished without his quick response.  Phillip James pulled several people from the van and assisted police in forming a human chain to rescue the rest. The water was so cold that he lost his voice.  So many bystanders were not doing anything, he said.  He remembered thinking, "Why are these people just watching?"--"I heard sirens (of police and fire trucks).  I thought, 'Thank God, I'm not going to have to do this by myself.'" [from the account published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal of January 14, 2005]
The NewsJournal reports on Saturday, March 17, 2007, that Steven Sliwa, student at Embry-Riddle receives the Carnegie Medal for rescuing an elderly woman from her automobile, which shortly after the rescue, exploded. The NewsJournal writes, "Sliwa said he didn't think about the danger. He just acted. The sensation, he said, was similar to racing cars at high speeds. 'You get focused, you get a shot of adrenaline, you get a flushed feeling, all your sense enhanced,' Sliwa said. 'I was there at the right time, at the right moment.'" The NewsJournal also lists Del-Trone Gomillia as a recipient. The 21-year-old Gomillia "drowned while trying to save a family trapped in a rip current at Wilbur-by-the-Sea. He received the medal and his young daughter will be eligible for tuition aid when she turns 17."
 
Dr. Reinhold Schlieper
March 14, 2007