b. 26/09/1871 Kilkeel, County Down, Ireland. d. 01/02/1928 Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 01/10/1918 near Apremont, France.
Thompson came to the United States from Ireland in 1898 at the age of 18 and entered Geneva College that year. He immediately became a basketball star and also participated in gymnastics and wrestling, but did not go out for football until 1900. He served as Geneva's player-coach for three years, with his football teams compiling a 27-2-3 record.
Thompson continued his education at the University of Pittsburgh, then called the Western University of Pennsylvania, where he played football from 1904 and 1906, during which time the Panthers compiled a 26-6 record. He captained the Pitt football team to its first perfect season in 1904 when the Panthers won all ten games and surrendered only one touchdown. Thompson graduated from Pitt in 1905 and continued on with post-graduate work in the School of Law completing his law degree. While at Pitt he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Following graduation from Pitt's Law School, Thompson assumed the head coaching position at Pitt from 1909 to 1912 during which period he led Pitt to a 22-11-2 record. The highlight of his coaching tenure was the 1910 season in which Pitt went undefeated and unscored upon and was considered by many consider to be that season's National Champion. While compiling its 9-0 record, Pitt outscored its opponents 282-0. During this time, he attended Pitt's School of Law, graduating in 1909 and was admitted to the bar.
Thompson enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard's Company H, 14th Infantry Regiment on February 16, 1905. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on November 1, 1906; to Captain in Company B, 10th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard on December 16, 1909; to Major on June 29, 1912; to Lieutenant Colonel on October 28, 1918; and finally to Colonel on March 15, 1919. While serving in WWI he was wounded four times: on September 29, 1918; September 30, 1918; October 1, 1918; and again on October 1, 1918, when he was gassed. He remained on duty after each instance. As of April 12, 1919, he was commanding the 110th Infantry Regiment. Thompson initially returned to the United States on May 11, 1919. He returned to France in June 1919, in order to redeploy the 110th Infantry Regiment to the United States. He was discharged from active duty in December 1919.
While serving in France with the 110th Infantry, then Major Thompson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor on October 1, 1918, during which action he was wounded for the fourth time. This decoration was subsequently upgraded to the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1925. His four wounds entitled him to wear four wound chevrons (the precursor to the Purple Heart which was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932) on his uniform's lower right sleeve.
Thompson represented the 47th District as a member of the Republican Party in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1913–1916 and practiced law in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He practiced law in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, until his death in 1928, from ailments aggravated by war wounds. Thompson was inducted into the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and has been inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.
Counterattacked by two regiments of the enemy, Major Thompson encouraged his battalion in the front line by constantly braving the hazardous fire of machineguns and artillery. His courage was mainly responsible for the heavy repulse of the enemy. Later in the action, when the advance of his assaulting companies was held up by fire from a hostile machinegun nest and all but one of the six assaulting tanks were disabled, Major Thompson, with great gallantry and coolness, rushed forward on foot three separate times in advance of the assaulting line, under heavy machinegun and antitank-gun fire, and led the one remaining tank to within a few yards of the enemy machinegun nest, which succeeded in reducing it, thereby making it possible for the infantry to advance.
BURIAL LOCATION: BEAVER FALLS CEMETERY, BEAVER FALLS, PENNSYLVANIA.
Section A, Lot 55
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