While reading about the massacre at My Lai and the surrounding areas on March 16th, 1968, I learned of the three courageous men who stood up against their peers and did their best to save lives and end the brutal and senseless slaughter of unarmed women, children, and the elderly. It is without a doubt one of the most embarrassing, tragic, and despicable acts in American history. But that clearly goes without saying.
While reading Trent Angers book The Forgotten Hero of My Lai - The Hugh Thompson Story, I immediately admired those three men - Hugh Thompson, Larry Colburn, & Glenn Andreotta. It was one particular moment that I read describing Andreotta's act of heroism that touched me the most. It is as follows:
"They flew over the ditch at a low altitude and got a long, hard look at the most awful scene any of them had ever witnessed...'Boss, something's moving down there,' Andreotta said. 'Can you swing back around?'
The helicopter looped around then set down quickly near the edge of the ditch. Andreotta had maintained visual contact with the spot where he saw the movement, and he darted out of the aircraft as soon as it touched the ground...Andreotta had to walk on several badly mangled bodies to get to where he was going. He lifted a corpse with several bullet holes in the torso and there, lying under it, was a child, age five or six, covered in blood and obviously in a state of shock.
As he lifted the tiny girl's head...he picked her up and tried to climb out of the ditch but was unable to get his footing...He was inching his way toward the edge of the ditch when a dying woman reached up and grasped the outside seam of his pants...Holding the child with his left arm, he leaned down and felt the woman's pulse with his right hand.
Observing that Andreotta was having trouble getting out of the ditch, Colburn went over to help him. He could see that Andreotta was in distress from the look on his face. Still, Andreotta was looking around to see if there was anyone else he could save. He checked the pulse of three or four people who didn't seem to be dead yet. He bent over and put his ear near the face of a woman who was desperately trying to say something to him. He held her hand as she spoke."
There are few things in this world as truly awesome and beautiful as compassion. This is why I admire this young man; for his overwhelming compassion in a whirlwind of chaos, fear, and heartbreak. He was a fine, fine man.
(Glenn U. Andreotta October 30, 1947 - April 8, 1968)