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Thompson, Louis G., Jr.(893rd)

Louis G. Thompson, Jr. 

Biography:  Louis Graham Thompson (L.G. or Pete) was born on July 25, 1915, in Paragould, Arkansas. He was the son of Louis Graham Thompson Sr. and Hattie Mae Williams and graduated from Blytheville High School in Blytheville, AR. His father owned a farm and a plumbing company and Pete split his time working as a farmer and a plumber. It is believed that he may have continued his education at the Missouri State Teachers College but unfortunately, no other information is available.

Service Time:  Pete enlisted in the Army on December 4, 1942. After his basic training, he was eventually assigned to Company C of the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. We are not sure of the order of events but we believe at some point he was chosen for OCS (Officer Candidate School). After his graduation as a 2nd Lieutenant, he would have been put in charge of a tank destroyer platoon in the unit. The main photo shows Pete at the rank of Lieutenant while serving with the 893rd.

The unit shipped out from the New York port on January 9, 1944, and arrived at Liverpool, England, on January 20. After a few months of additional training and preparations, they boarded a ship and landed at the Omaha beachhead on July 1st. They were equipped with M10 tank destroyers and committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye.

They advanced east to Paris by August 25th and then to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel, fighting in the Hürtgen Forest in November, supporting the 28th Infantry Division’s disastrous assault on Schmidt and remained there when the division was replaced.

The 893rd continued to hold defensive positions in January, 1945, and then supported the 78th Infantry Division’s capture of the Roer River dams in February and later participated in an offensive across the Roer toward the Rhine River.

The photo at left looks to have been taken during the unit’s training within the U.S.

They finally crossed the Rhine at Remagen, Germany, on March 7th and supported the attack northward to the Sieg River and subsequent operations against the Ruhr Pocket in April. Pete was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service for the period February 24 to May 8, 1945 in Germany.  His citation reads as follows:

“Throughout this period Captain Thompson (then First Lieutenant) coordinated his company’s action with that of the infantry regiment he supported. Under his aggressive leadership his company greatly aided the Infantry in all attacks, eliminated many strongpoints, pockets of resistance , and supplying antitank protection to hold the ground taken. His outstanding leadership, personal courage and aggressiveness are in accordance with the highest military traditions.”

In addition to the Bronze Star, Pete was awarded the EAME with silver campaign star in recognition of his participation in five campaigns. He also received the American Campaign Ribbon and the Army of Occupation Medal for Germany and shared in the unit’s award of the Croix De Guerre. He left the service on February 18, 1946. On January 18, 1947, Pete married the former Ethel Vivian Goodner, who was born in Arkansas and was the daughter of Olen Forrest Goodner and Collin Bell Grove. The new couple would make their home in Alton, MO. Over the years, the couple would have four children, Deborah, Graham, Sandy and Jeff.

Pete’s later service is unclear but as of March of 1952, he took the Indoctrination Course of the Air-Ground Operations School given by the United States Air-Force at their base in Southern Pines, North Carolina.In October of 1952, he entered the ranks of the Reserve Commissioned Officer of the Officer’s Reserve Corps. In July, 1957, he was serving with the 510th Tank battalion in Mannheim, Germany, as the unit’s Executive Officer. In the photo above right, you can see Pete wearing the 7th Army patch with the golden oak leaf of his rank as a Major. As of May, 1960, he was given a certificate of lifetime membership in the Headquarters 4th Armored Division of the Seventh United States Army.

Pete would re-enlist in the Army on August 9, 1960, but this time as an non-commissioned officer, taking the rank of Sergeant. We believe this choice was part of the Army’s efforts to reduce it’s large officer count and Pete’s desire to remain in active duty. In his new position, he would take part in the Army Recruiting and Career Counseling Course, held at the Headquarters of The Adjutant General’s School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. The course was held in January through February of 1961. He later served with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment of the 3rd Armored (Spearhead) Division which was stationed in Germany during the Cold War years. Pete served as Battalion Operations Sergeant for some portion of his time with the unit and would receive a Certificate of Achievement for his outstanding and meritorious service from June 4, 1965, through June 26, 1967. In February of 1966, he completed  the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Course of the 3rd Armored Division, now at the rank of Master Sergeant. He would also receive a Scroll of Appreciation certificate of performance for his Battalion Operations service  in March of 1966, and finally a certificate acknowledging his appointment as a “Lifetime Spearheader”, on June 21, 1967, at Friedberg, Germany. He left the service on July 31, 1967. He was awarded the UN Korean War Service Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Good Conduct Medal as well as a number of other awards.

Certificate of Achievement – 1st battalion/32nd Armored Regiment

Now enjoying his retirement back in the U.S, Pete spent his time assembling jig-saw puzzles, playing poker, traveling, fishing, smoking cigars and tinkering in his workshop. As time went on, he especially enjoyed spending time with his grand kids. He also volunteered his time with the VFW and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief of Staff for District 18. In May of 1996, Pete was recognized for his Meritorious and Distinguished service to the VFW.

Pete passed away on April 7, 1997 and was buried in the Smith Cemetery in Alton, MO. He lived long enough to welcome 11 grandchildren into the family. I want to thank Pete’s granddaughter, Ashley, for providing the photos and information used in this tribute. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor Pamela for use of the grave marker photo.