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Woodrow R. Thompson


Woodrow Reginald Thompson—born on 12 March 1919 at Belva, W. Va.—enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 12 January 1940 at Charleston, W. Va. He went through "boot camp" at Parris Island, S.C., and served at Quantico, Va.; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Parris Island, attaining promotions to private, first class, on 20 September 1940; to corporal on 1 September 1941; and to sergeant on 1 July 1942.


When his unit, the 1st Marine Division (reinforced), was sent to Guadalcanal, Sergeant Thompson sailed with them. There, his platoon took part in operations designed to drive the Japanese 4th Infantry from a bridgehead at the mouth of the Matanikau River. On the evening of 8 October 1942, the marines dug in for the night in the steaming jungle. Soon the Japanese launched a desperate counter-attack against the hastily prepared marine positions, charging against the thinly held right flank of the American lines.


Fierce fighting ensued. Small arms, automatic weapons, and grenades were the principal weapons. Desperate hand-to-hand combat took place in the night as the Japanese sought to escape envelopment. Sergeant Thompson refused to be dislodged from his position and gave his life early on 9 October, "after exacting a tremendous toll on the enemy." For his devotion to duty and "extraordinary heroism," Thompson received a posthumous Navy Cross. The 1st Marines subsequently received a Presidential Unit Citation.



Woodrow R. Thompson (DE-451)—a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort—was scheduled to be built at Newark, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry-dock Co.; but the contract for her construction was cancelled on 6 June 1944.



Woodrow R. Thompson (DD-721)—a Gearing-class destroyer—was laid down on 1 August 1945 at Newark, N.J., by the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. The contract for her construction was cancelled on 12 December 1945, but it was decided to reinstate the award of the contract early in 1946—but to suspend work on the ship. Accordingly, the ship was launched, as planned, on 16 March 1946, and sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Thompson, the mother of Sergeant Thompson. Delivered in a partially completed state to the 3d Naval District, New York, N.Y., for maintenance and preservation, on 31 July 1946, Woodrow R. Thompson was struck from the Navy list on 2 November 1954. She was sold for scrap on 29 August 1955.