Bassfield veteran takes memorable honor flight
Flying with 72 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the WWII Memorial was an experience Spencer Thompson will never forget for several reasons.
Bassfield native Thompson was reading the Southern Pine Electric Power Association newspaper Today In Mississippi when he saw an advertisement announcing the last trip for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight, a non-profit program that flies Mississippi’s WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. free of charge to visit memorials honoring of service and sacrifice. This was the seventh of such flights and possibly the last unless more funding can be found.
At the age of 92, Thompson did not want to miss out. He applied and was accepted to go. On October 29 he boarded a chartered US Airways plane at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, and several hours later landed at Ronald Reagan International.
This one-day whirlwind trip allowed Thompson the opportunity to visit the WWII Memorial, the Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials, the Iwo Jima Monument and a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
As an added bonus, Thompson’s granddaughter who lives in Pennsylvania traveled to D.C. for a surprise introduction of two great-grandchildren never before met by Thompson. Nadia and Adam Radouane were elated to meet great grandpa.
Upon his return to Mississippi, Thompson and the other veterans were greeted and cheered by thousands. His daughter, Linda picked him up. “When I got to the airport I started crying,” she said. “I always cry when I hear patriotic songs.”
Spencer Thompson was born on July 15, 1921 to Ella Price and Scott Thompson. He was one of 24 children, and all along with his parents have preceded him in death. Thompson enlisted in the United States Army in September 1941 and received an honorable discharge in 1945. He was a member of the 239th Ammunition Company and a Tank Company serving in Germany and in the Pacific. A proud memory was being escorted to the front lines by the famous air squadron The Red Tails.
His daughter Linda described his arrival home after being discharged. “He rode the train on the way to Camp Shelby. They passed through Bassfield. He wanted to get off, but they had to go to Camp Shelby first.”
Many of Thompson’s family served in the armed forces including a bother, Willie J. Thompson, who was a member of the all-black 333rd Artillery Company.
Celebrating the honor of this flight with him is his daughter Vera (Linda) Thompson of Bassfield, his son James Wilson of Pittsburgh, five grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.