Eulogy for Major Arthur Miles Thompson
Company I, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, USA
The Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster, The Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp – Two Loops, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, Presidential Unit Citation with First Oak Leaf Cluster – Operation Overlord (Normandy) and Operation Market Garden (Holland)
30 January, 1922 – 31 March, 1995
Sons should speak for their fallen fathers.
Of his father, Hamlet said,
He was a man.
Take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
And so I shall not.
The men of my father’s generation are slowly passing from us, and we who are left behind and who take him to his rest today are poorer for it. When they were young, he and his fellows lived the last great adventure of our time, and in so doing, they came to know the horror, the pain, the suffering, the loneliness, and the loss of war. But by the courage, unselfishness, and heroism that they displayed, they won World War II and saved the world. Through their sacrifice, they ensured that we and those who come after us will continue to enjoy the freedoms for which they paid so dear a price.
In his farewell address to Congress, General of the Army Douglass MacArthur said,
“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”
But I tell you today that my father’s spirit lives. It lives in Sicily and Italy; in Holland and in Belgium; and in the now quiet and peaceful fields and hedgerows of Sainte-Mêre-Eglise in Normandy. And his spirit lives at Fort Benning and at Fort Bragg and in the hearts and souls of the many, many soldiers who wear the uniform of the 82nd Airborne Division, America’s Guard of Honor, the uniform that he wore so proudly and which he wears again today.
Whenever and wherever a stick of paratroops, loosed from the bonds of Earth, jumps from a transport into the freedom of the sky to touch the face of God, my father will be there with them, together once again with General Gavin, Sergeant Almieda, Corporal DeGeralmo, and the others who have gone before them.
In his old age, Tennyson’s Ulysses said,
You and I are old,
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil,
Death closes all, but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in olden days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are –
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
2 April, 1995
NOTE: Major Thompson’s funeral was conducted in Malakoff, Texas on 2 April, 1995. Full military honors were rendered by a 17-man detachment of the First Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.