Thursday, August 04, 2005

Army Pfc. Nils G. Thompson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Nils G. Thompson, 19, of Confluence, Pennsylvania.

Pfc. Thompson died in Mosul, Iraq, when he was struck by enemy fire while on a routine patrol at an Iraqi police station. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Washington. Died on August 4, 2005.

By Milan Simonich, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nils G. Thompson had one career ambition -- to serve his country as a soldier.

After he completed his hitch in the Army, he planned to return to Confluence in Somerset County to work on his parents' 100-acre farm.

Mr. Thompson achieved his goal of military service, but he never made it home. A sniper killed him Thursday in Mosul, Iraq.

Mr. Thompson, a private first class, died the day after he turned 19.

His interest in the military began in childhood. Uncles and a grandfather who had served in World War II inspired him.

"He looked up to them," Mr. Thompson's mother, Frances, said yesterday. "He knew since he was a little boy that being in the military was all he wanted. He never wavered."

Mr. Thompson lived most of his life in Staten Island, N.Y. His family, intent on escaping the big city, moved to Confluence in 2000, when he was 13.

He adapted quickly to country life, helping his father, Nils M. Thompson, put up fences and tend to cattle and sheep.

Mr. Thompson graduated from Turkeyfoot Valley High School last year, then joined the Army in August, as soon as he turned 18.

By that stage, his family did not share his enthusiasm for life in the military.

"The war was on, and we were afraid," his mother said. "But we all stood behind him and supported him."

Jeffrey Coogan, of Staten Island, a cousin of Mr. Thompson's, said relatives could not help but respect a teenager with so much determination.

"There was no stopping him," Coogan said. "It's something he'd always wanted to do."

The Army deployed Mr. Thompson to Iraq about five months ago. He phoned home every week, and peppered relatives with letters and emails that were consistently upbeat.

His mother said she would occasionally speculate on how hard life was in a war zone, but Mr. Thompson never agreed, nor did he ever complain.

"I'd say, 'It must be hot there. It's got to be over 100 degrees.' He'd say he was all right. He never said anything negative. All he did was call and encourage me."

Mr. Thompson, a Catholic, was deeply religious. Relatives said his faith kept him optimistic. A chaplain told the family that Mr. Thompson spent his free time in Iraq reading the Bible.

If fellow soldiers asked him about religion, he happily discussed it with them. Shortly before Mr. Thompson's death, Coogan said, he had reviewed a gospel reading for another soldier.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Thompson is survived by a sister, Lily, who is 14.

Family members plan a service for Staten Island. Details were incomplete yesterday. Their hope is to bury Mr. Thompson at Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, D.C.

Frances Thompson said she knows that is what her son would want.

Army Pfc. Nils G. Thompson was killed in action on 08/04/05.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

may we never forget