Born: August 5, 1928, St. Louis, MO
The family unto which I was born had a long tradition of military service. My father, Robert A. Thompson, was a World War I sergeant, and the linage of my parents included veterans from our War for Independence through World War II.
My parents belonged to no church, nor did they attend worship services. Consequently, I had no formal religious education. The first time I heard the Gospel was during World War II, and that was by radio. The music attracted me, and I listened further to the sermon by Dr. Charles E. Fuller of “The Old Fashioned Revival Hour.” After weeks of listening and meditation, I accepted the call to give my life to the Savior. Contemplating a Regular Army career, I soon felt that I should become a preacher because of my spiritual ignorance and that of my family and friends. Sadly I knew nothing about churches so I spent a year or two studying the doctrines and practices of the major denominations and attending their services from one end of the religious spectrum to the other. Ultimately I joined the Calvary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Years later I was ordained into the Gospel Ministry a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.
My education: Southern Baptist College (A.A.), William Jewell College (B.A.), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.), graduate studies in history at the University of Missouri (D.Litt. – honorary).
When I graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Korean War had begun. Having had prior service as an Infantry rifleman, I volunteered for the U.S. Army Chaplaincy three days following my graduation. In a brief time I was with the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, in Korea where I was wounded. Returning to the States and stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Captain MacIntosh, our Adjutant, asked if I would like to remain in the Army. Upon discussing this with my wife, Irene, I chose to remain on active duty. Later I was commissioned into the Regular Army, assigned to the 3rd Armored Division. While in Germany, other tours took me to the Berlin Brigade, and as Division Chaplain of the First Cavalry Division (1967) and the 25th Infantry Division (1968), in Vietnam. It was with the Cav that I was wounded again.
Assigned to the U.S. Army Chaplain School, I was the Director, Department of Non-Resident Instruction. My great love was and is Chaplain history. However very little had been done; there was a room piled with uncatalogued items and pictures, and the excellent but all-too-brief history by a Reserve Chaplain, Professor Honeywell. I asked the Commandant Ch. V.T. Koepke, for permission, as an additional duty, to be the curator, and he more than gladly consented. The museum began to take a professional form, and many important artifacts were obtained. The Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (M.G.) G.W. Hyatt provided great support, and directed that a five volume history be prepared for the celebration of the National Bicentennial in 1976. Further classes about our history were added to the curriculum, and a full-time historian was assigned to the Faculty. I feel that these initial, and often faulty, efforts on my part to establish an historical presence for the Chaplaincy was my major contribution to our Branch.
Needless to say, my main efforts as a Chaplain (and now as a civilian pastor) were the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the men and women (and their families) of the U.S. Army. Anything less would have been a denial of my purpose for being.
One last word. My call into the Army Chaplaincy came to meet the need for military clergy during the Korean War. But its confirmation happened in North Korea during the heavy fighting of which the Battles of the Boomerang and Outpost Henry and the Kumson Bulge were significant parts. I was standing on a hillside in the midst of this great bloodletting of that period and a peace came over me, and I knew that I was at the place God designed for me. It was real then and it is still real now. I retired from Active Duty at the end of 1980, and have subsequently been an active pastor.
My favorite Scripture verse: Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”