NEWS RELEASE Issued January 28, 2000
Vietnam War Hero
Thompson nominated (337) 235-8851
for Nobel Peace Prize
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Hugh Thompson of Lafayette, La., the U.S. Army
helicopter pilot who risked his life to stop the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his heroic actions in March of 1968.
And Thompson‟s biographer, Trent Angers, also of Lafayette, has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature for his book “The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story.” (Acadian House Publishing)
Thompson‟s nomination was made by U.S. Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and U.S.
Rep. Chris John (D-La.). Angers‟ nomination was made by Dr. Patricia Rickels, instructor in English and director of the Honors Program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
In his letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Breaux stated that Thompson‟s
actions at My Lai make him a valuable role model, not only for young people but for military personnel around the world as well.
“Hugh Thompson‟s story is a shining example of ethical, humane treatment of civilians and prisoners-of-war during wartime. I understand his story is used to teach battlefield ethics in military training courses in the U.S., Norway, Sweden
and other European countries. It is also used in law schools in the U.S. in the teaching of international humanitarian law,” Breaux stated.
“His actions serve as a powerful statement having the power to inspire others to act justly and compassionately toward their neighbor, regardless of nationality….
“It seems to me that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Thompson
would promote these and other lessons taught by his story. It would ratify the importance of the principles embodied in the Geneva Conventions. And it would hold up, for all the world to see, an inspiring example of the concern and compassion of which human beings are capable in responding to the needs of their neighbors, in their own country or in nations other than their own.”
Congressman John agreed with Sen. Breaux‟s assessment and added:
“I believe I speak for a great number of Americans when I say we are extremely
proud of Mr. Thompson‟s bravery and compassion toward the Vietnamese people whom he rescued during the My Lai massacre…. His actions make a profound
statement about the importance of battlefield ethics, individual integrity and the value of human life.”
In nominating Angers for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Dr. Rickels stressed the moral and ethical lessons to be learned from his biography on Thompson. “This work, characterized by idealism and a desire to make known the heroic actions of forgotten moral heroes, has a universal interest, since it focuses on crimes against humanity and the way one or a few persons, in the face of overwhelming odds, can make a real difference for the triumph of the good....
“A book like this is important, because it tells a significant true story of
integrity, persistence and moral values. Its greatest value is its presentation of role models in a time when most people think that „one person can‟t make a difference,‟” she wrote.
Thompson‟s biography recounts the story of how he and his helicopter crew set down in the midst of the massacre and rescued nine Vietnamese civilians from U.S. ground troops who were on a killing spree. In addition to saving these nine, Thompson filed the complaint with his superiors that brought about the cease-fire that ended the killing.
After the massacre, Thompson continued his quest for justice for the Vietnamese by testifying against Lt. William Calley and others suspected of war crimes at My Lai.
Some 28 years after their courageous deeds at My Lai, Thompson and his crew were finally recognized as heroes by the U.S. Army. In March of 1998 they were given the Soldier‟s Medal – the highest award the Army can bestow for battlefield action other than with the enemy. They also received from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Mass., the Courage of Conscience Award – the same one given to
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi and other world-renowned figures known for their work on behalf of the poor and powerless.