Jay R. Thompson., USMC
I trained in San Diego during the summer of 1941. Departed the States on November 1, 1941, as a passenger on the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City. I think there were about 200 of us. Enroute to Pearl, we practiced night maneuvers and arrived in Honolulu on the 8th of November. I was temporarily assigned to Company A Marine Barracks. While there, I did guard duty at the tank farm. I was filled full of stories of possible sabotage it was scary duty (midnight to 4am) for a country boy from Texas.
Late in November, I was told that assignments were being made for sea duty. One Marine asked if it mattered to me what ship I was assigned to. He wanted to be on a bigger ship that did not rock and pitch as he tended to get seasick. He was sent to the Arizona and on December 4, 1941, I was sent to the USS San Francisco (CA 38) a heavy cruiser.
The “Frisco was at a repair dock undergoing an overhaul. Engines had been taken apart and placed out on the dock while awaiting new parts from the states. All ammunition had been removed from the ship as we were supposed to have been in dry-dock at the time. The one where the Pennsylvania was docked. As you can see, we were in no shape to do any fighting. I was so new on the ship that I had not even been assigned a gun position. So, most of the attack for me was spent below deck in the Marine compartment. When I did come topside, all I saw was the battle ships burning and sinking. The Marines were immediately placed on guard duty on the dock and various parts of the ship.
We did have rumors that the Japs had landed so we had to be prepared. Also, later that day, we had another rumor that the water supply had been poisoned. We were really thirsty for several hours while it was being tested. The next few days were a frenzy of activity as we reloaded ammunition and make preparations for war.
Our Marine Capt. Henderson had the idea that he should help those who were besieged at Wake Island. He ordered us to make ready while he arranged for a PBY to fly the Marine Detachment as reinforcements to Wake. Fortunately, someone higher up found out his plan and canceled it.
A week before the war stated a friend and I were in Honolulu walking and looking. What else can you do on $30 a month? About dusk, we sat down on someone’s rock wall that bordered their yard. While sitting there, the evening music from a nearby Temple began. Harold was so disgusted with things that he vented his feelings about life in general, the turn of events that had placed him there and those playing that blankety-blank music.
In his frustration he said that he wouldn’t even mind getting in a war with those (*&)*&^$%^$&* and that awful music. So, I have never let him forget that he wished this war on us.
As you can see, I didn’t do anything spectacular at Pearl. It was a most nerve-racking day and one, which I have never forgotten.
Information provided by Jay R. Thompson
Jay Richards Thompson was born April 25, 1923 in Clayton, Texas and died March 12, 2008 in Jacksboro, Texas. His father, William Levi Thompson was a farmer and dealer in Watkins Products; his mother, Tex Emma
Richards was a homemaker. Jay attended schools in Clayton, Gary and Terrell,Texas; joined the US Marine Corps in July 1941, did recruit training and sea school in San Diego; transferred to Marine Barracks, Honolulu, TH and then to Marine Detachment USS San Francisco on December 4, 1941 just prior to the sneak attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He served aboard the USS San Francisco for 2 ? years and earned eleven battle stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon and other decorations. Jay was able to attend the 50th Anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor with Helen and the 60th and 65th anniversaries with his daughters. He was a member of PHSA, DAV, the USS San Francisco Association, ATPE, TEPSA and several other organizations. The Richard Bard Chapter of the DAR also honored him by awarding him their Medal of Honor, their highest award. Medically discharged in January 1945, Jay met his future wife, Helen Ritchie, while he was a patient and she was a nurse at the VA Hospital in McKinney. They married on June 2, 1951, and were married almost 51 years at the time of her death in 2002. He is survived by their three children; Jean and husband Jerry Henderson of Jacksboro, Texas; John of Las Vegas, NV and Paula and husband Roger Koehler of Spring, Texas; and five grandchildren: Ben of Waco, Texas, Hannah of Lubbock, Texas and Pete, Emily and Michael of Spring, Texas; and four nieces: Kathy Rockenfeller of Amarillo, Texas, Susan Diggs of McAllen, Texas, Margaret Phoebe Haney of East Aurora, NY and Terry Stewart of California; and two nephews: Jay Clem of Santa Rosa, CA and Tommy Thompson of Bakersfield, CA. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Ethel Zybczynski of Hamburg, NY.
After earning his BS (on the GI Bill) and MA degrees at NTSU in Denton, Texas, Jay began his teaching career in Nocona, Texas then at Denton Jr. High and then attended Episcopal Seminary in Austin. He returned to
education in 1960 in Mesquite, Texas until his retirement in 1985. The last 19 years he was principal of C. A. Tosch Elementary. One year after retirement, the MISD School Board honored him by voting to name a future school for him. The Jay R. Thompson Elementary at 2525 Helen Lane opened in 1995. Jay and Helen enjoyed many happy times camping with friends and playing dominoes and cards with the grandkids. In 2004 Jay was proud to take his daughters and grandkids to Washington D.C. to see the newly completed World War II Memorial. Jay was a faithful member of St. Thomas Anglican Church in Jacksboro, Texas.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Thomas Anglican Church, Jacksboro, Texas on Saturday, March 15 at 2:00 pm. A memorial service will be held in Mesquite, Texas date and time TBA. Interment will be at DFW National Cemetery. Please no flowers but memorials may be sent to your favorite charity or to Gladys Johnson Ritchie Public Library, 626 West College Street in Jacksboro, Texas 76458 or to Concerned Citizens at 400 East Pine Street in Jacksboro, Texas 76458.