Family memorializing Air Force veteran's life in a special way
CENTERVILLE, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) — Hidden behind the thread and bronze of military awards are stories. These tales come out during Memorial Day weekend. For one military family, their father’s life is becoming memorialized in a special way.
Master Sergeant Richard Thompson was a prisoner of war (POW).
“Because we can tell stories, but putting things down on paper to tell things to our kids is very important,” Matt Thompson said of his father Richard’s legacy.
Matt is with the 655th Intellgence, surveillance and reconnaissance group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“My father jumped in Normandy as part of the 82nd Airborne Division, and then again at the Battle of the Bulge,” Matt said.
His father's group did not fall back after a jump, and were separated. On Christmas Eve he was captured, and spent the next four months in agony. He even kept a piece of the parachute from the war.
“He was liberated in the same clothes he was captured in, and they slept in wood framed beds with steel, no mattresses,” Matt described.
He kept the spoon he used while captured. Every day the POWs were given a bowl of soup, sometimes two. Richard Thompson lost 45 lbs. while a POW.
“He had frostbite on his feet. I remember being a young boy, and seeing the marks on his skin,” Matt said, “Sadly he never got to see any of his grandchildren.”
His legend lives on by what’s left behind. The memories his children now keep in the form of pictures, stories, and his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Matt’s sister is writing a book about their father, so the grandchildren can finally meet the man his own children forever admire.