M​y Lai massacre survivor Do Ba (L) meets with former US Army officer Lawrence Colburn (Source: AP)

Hanoi (VNA) - Lawrence Manley Colburn, the US army helicopter gunner who helped stop the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese villagers by US troops at My Lai in 1968, has died at the age of 67, reported the Associated Press.

“We are shocked and very sorry for the death of Lawrence Colburn, a person who has a special place in the heart of locals in Son My. He is deeply respected for saving many locals from the My Lai massacre,” said Pham Thanh Cong, Director of the My Lai Museum.

Lisa Colburn told AP on December 15 evening that her husband of 31 years was diagnosed with cancer in late September and died on December 13.

"It was very quick," she told AP by phone from her home in Canton, Ga., near Atlanta. "He was a very peaceful man who had a great desire for a peaceful world."

She also called him "a compassionate person who was a hero in many people’s eyes".

Colburn was the last surviving member of a US Army crew that stopped fellow soldiers from further shootings and killings of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in the central province of Quang Ngai on March 16, 1968. According to accounts, pilot Hugh Thompson landed the helicopter between unarmed villagers and American troops and ordered Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta to cover him.

Thompson then persuaded members of Charlie Company to stop shooting. The American army company’s soldiers had begun shooting villagers that day, even though they hadn’t come under attack, authorities later said. The shooting quickly escalated into an orgy of killing that claimed the lives of as many as 504 civilians — most of whom were women, children or elderly.

In an initial Facebook post, Lisa Colburn confirmed her husband’s death and wrote: "As most of you know, Larry has been very ill for a while, but his suffering ended today, 12/13/16." She added: "Your friendship meant a lot to him."

Trent Angers, who wrote a biography of Thompson, The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story, said Colburn played an indispensable role in stopping the massacre at My Lai.

"He stood up, shoulder to shoulder with Hugh and Glenn, to oppose and stand down against those who were committing crimes against humanity. Without his assistance, Hugh might not have done what he did," Angers said.
Colburn and Thompson were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for their actions and received the Soldier’s Medal, the highest US military award for bravery not involving conflict with the adversary.

Thompson, who lived in Lafayette, La., died in 2006. Andreotta was killed in combat in Vietnam three weeks after My Lai.

AP reported that a memorial service for Colburn is planned on January 7, 2017. In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by three sisters./.