Thompson, Kenneth O.

Kenneth Thompson enlisted in the Army on 7 January 1941 and then accepted a commission on 21 June 1944. First Lieutenant Kenneth O. Thompson, Air Corps, United States Army was the co-pilot of one of three B-25 medium bombers which were scheduled to coordinate with two flights of fighters in an attack on an enemy convoy of three destroyers and two transports in the vicinity of Ormoc Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands on 28 November 1944. When the flight of fighters which was to precede them failed to find the target, and the other formation of fighters was intercepted by the enemy, they proceeded to attack the target alone. In the face of heavy anti-aircraft fire which was now concentrated entirely on their flight and with only two of their fixed guns in operation, these crew members started their strafing run, when their airplane was hit in the bomb bay and immediately caught fire. They nevertheless continued to strafe a nearby destroyer, setting it afire, but were repeatedly hit until they crashed into the water. Though two of them were severely burned, the trio managed to get into a life raft and, after three nights and two days in enemy patrolled waters, were finally rescued. The outstanding courage and devotion to duty displayed by these officers and this enlisted man are worthy of the highest commendation. LT Thompson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart for this action. He flew over 50 air missions in WWII including the P-38 in both fighter and reconnaissance missions in addition to the aforementioned B-25 bomber Thereafter, Ken served in Active Reserve status in the Army Air Corps followed by the US Air Force 16-DEC-1946 to 01-OCT-1966. Ken then served in Inactive Reserve status from 01-OCT-1966 culminating in Air Force Reserve Retirement on 12-SEPT-1977. Among his many accomplishments after the war he continued to fly until his retirement from the Air Force Reserves, he earned a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Alabama, and he was a key figure in the establishment of the research institute that we know today as the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). At UAH, he served as a Professor, as Associate Dean of Engineering, and as the Director of the Office of Contracts and Grants, including directorship of all Computer Resources during the time when computers grew from a rarity to a cornerstone of research, and chaired several key committees. Ken and Tempie were married for 38 years. A point of interest on this is that Ken passed away on their 38th wedding anniversary. Ken was instrumental, both emotionally and in all other ways including tutoring in Tempie attaining her BS degree in Accounting with highest honors from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her highest academic award was induction into the honorary Phi Kappa Phi, which she attributes this accomplishment of having the luxury of a PhD husband as her personal tutor. She marketed this degree into a position in Accounting at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. While both were still working, they became involved in Recreational Vehicle (RV) travel. All vacations, long week ends, etc. Were utilized for RV travel. After retirement they spent the next 13 years "on the road", while still maintaining their home base in Madison. The first year of retirement they were on the road 10 &1/2 months, after that at least 50% and sometimes more of their time was spent traveling, including all the US states. Many were revisited more than once, example three extensive trips to Alaska, and all the Canadian provinces at least once and some revisited. They made time for some overseas travel to Hawaii, South Africa, Italy, England, Finland, Norway, Denmark to name some countries visited. After 13 years of basically motor home travel they did numerous extensive car/motel trips. As time permitted, when home, they played a lot of duplicate bridge. Ken and Tempie were members of First Baptist Church of Madison. Ken, who grew up in a Catholic home, became the oldest person ever to be baptized in the Southern Baptist Convention.