Fort Sill honors highly-decorated local veteran who served in three wars

Local News

LAWTON, Okla. (KFDX/KJTL) — With Veterans Day quickly approaching, Fort Sill started celebrating Monday with a ceremony honoring a highly-decorated local veteran.

From brand new basic combat trainees to high-ranking officials, many were at Vessey Hall to celebrate retired Lt. Col. James L. Thompson.

Of course, people hear stories of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, but it’s rare to see a veteran who served in all three, and Lawton is home to one very special vet.

“I’m always on the lookout for the hats,” Sgt. First Class Ricardo Lobo said. “And When I saw the WWII, Korean, Vietnam hat, I immediately went to him, made a beeline straight to him.”

“For them to see that he served honorably for 23 years…” Lobo said.

So SFC Ricardo Lobo, drill sergeant for the Alpha Battery 95th Battalion, wanted to make an impact right before Veterans Day.

“Hopefully these young trainees can see that there is something to be proud of. It’s an honor to put on this uniform and serve your country,” Lobo said.

Thompson earned three bronze stars, too: two for valor from Germany in World War II; to Korea, where he also earned a battlefield commission for his service aiding ground forces; then onto Vietnam.

A truly remarkable story of courage and bravery from “the greatest generation,” especially for the new basic combat trainees in attendance like Elieser Maketa, who’ve been at Fort Sill for less than a week.

“It made me feel courageous on the path that is in front of me. That I will go on my way with strength and try to take some of this stuff I learned here and apply it in my future and in my training,” Maketa said.

With his 98th birthday right around the corner, Lt. Col. James L. Thompson continues to inspire the next generation.

“And for me coming to a country such as America, learning the history behind it, I felt like more confident to start my training Tuesday,” Maketa said.

More than two decades, more than a few acts of valor and the proper recognition for an American hero.

“What an honor! What an honor,” Thompson said.

This was an early celebration, again, not only for Veterans Day, but also Thompson’s 98th birthday on November 22.

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