Sixteen other soldiers under investigation will not face prosecution in the shootings, which took place at the height of the unrest in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.
Britain's Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said former personnel could not live "in constant fear of prosecution".
Over time, though, the victims' families got organized, campaigned for justice and eventually, more than 25 years after the killings, when a peace deal was signed in Northern Ireland, the British government committed to a full-scale inquiry.
"It has been a long road for the families. and today will be another extremely hard day for many of them", Northern Ireland's director of public prosecutions Stephen Herron said as he announced the charges. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, towards the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972.
A short internal military inquiry shortly after Bloody Sunday, known as the Widgery Report, concluded the soldiers had done nothing wrong.
However the available evidence surrounding 18 other suspects - 16 paratroopers and two alleged Official IRA members - who were investigated for charges up to and including murder was insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction, prosecutors decided.
The then UK Prime Minister David Cameron later apologised for the killings in the House of Commons, in a historic move which many former servicemen in the Bogside that day believed exonerated them.
Bloody Sunday British paratrooper charged with two murders over massacre | Daily Star
But he welcomed the positive news for the six families impacted by the decision to prosecute soldier F.
Mr Herron said: "An experienced team of senior prosecutors assisted by senior counsel has given careful consideration to all of the available evidence in these cases and applied the test for prosecution, in line with the PPS Code for Prosecutors".
"The innocence was gone; also the possibility of a reformist. solution to what was going on in Northern Ireland was, if not destroyed, substantially diminished by Bloody Sunday", McCann said.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will cover the legal costs of any soldier facing criminal charges over Bloody Sunday.
Ciaran Shiels, the solicitor for several of the victims' families, said: "We are disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial".
Kate Nash's brother William was shot dead and her father wounded on Bloody Sunday. I can still see his smiling face that day when he left home.
A silent crowd lines both sides of the road as the funeral procession of those who died Bloody Sunday passes, 02-02-1972.