Floyd James Thompson bigraphy, stories - American special forces colonel

Floyd James Thompson : biography

July 8, 1933 - July 16, 2002

Floyd James "Jim" Thompson (July 8, 1933 - July 16, 2002) was the longest held prisoner of war in United States history, spending nearly nine years in captivity in Vietnam.

Early life

Thompson worked for the A&P supermarket before he was drafted by the United States Army on June 14, 1956. Thompson was at first a very truculent, rebellious soldier, but then decided that he liked the military. After basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, Thompson decided to make the military his career.

Later years and Death

Thompson moved to Key West in 1981, after being medically retired from the U.S. Army, where he remained active in the community, according to the Monroe County Office of Veterans Affairs. On July 8, 2002, the staff of JIATF (Joint Interagency Task Force) East and some of his close friends threw Colonel Thompson a birthday party. He was described as being in high spirit and full of excitement. During the celebration he chose to quote General Douglas MacArthur: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away" and then he was silent. Everyone in the room sat there quietly and knew that is how Colonel Thompson wanted to go as well.

Eight days later Thompson was found dead in his Key West By the Sea Condominium on July 16, 2002 at the age of 69. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea off the coast of Florida.

Military decorations

In October 1974 James Thompson started to receive medals and awards in recognition for his service and sacrifice in Vietnam.

In October 1974 South Vietnam was the first to honor James Thompson’s service and sacrifice with the country’s highest honor, the Vietnam Military Merit Medal the Vietnamese equivalent to the United States Medal of Honor.Philpott, Tom, at Centreville, VA, (1st ed.), New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company (published May 2001), pp. 322-323, ISBN 0-393-02012-6

In recognition of his escape from Viet Cong POW camps Thompson received the Silver Star.Philpott, Tom, at Centreville, VA, (1st ed.), New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company (published May 2001), pp. 324, ISBN 0-393-02012-6

For his nine years in captivity Thompson received the Bronze Star and Legion of Merit. The Bronze Star recognized his continuous resistance to the enemy. The Legion of Merit recognized his suffering for his nine years in captivity.

On January 29, 1982 a retirement ceremony was held for Thompson, James Thompson received the Distinguished Service Medal in appreciation for his 25 years of service to his country as an Army Officer.Philpott, Tom, at Centreville, VA, (1st ed.), New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company (published May 2001), pp. 385-386, ISBN 0-393-02012-6

A ceremony held June 24, 1988 in the White House honoring POW's from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Two representatives were picked from each war to receive the Prisoner of War Medal. Thompson and Everett Alvarez were picked to represent POW’s from Vietnam.Philpott, Tom, at Centreville, VA, (1st ed.), New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company (published May 2001), pp. 398-400, ISBN 0-393-02012-6


Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star Legion of Merit Bronze Star Prisoner of War Medal Vietnam Service Medal Vietnam Military Merit Medal

Military career

After completing Officer Candidate School, Thompson served stateside and also spent a year in Korea. He was stationed at Fort Bragg when he was recruited into the Army Special Forces as a Green Beret.

Vietnam War

Captain Thompson went to Vietnam in December 1963. Prior to his deployment, he hadn't heard of the country. He was to serve only a six-month tour of duty but was captured on March 26, 1964. He was released on March 16, 1973, 10 days short of 9 years.

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