Clifford A. Thompson, Pilot
397th BG, 599th BS
Left: L to R: Paul Hutchinson, Clifford A. Thompson, C.C. Combest, Lee Rice
Center: Clifford A. Thompson
Right: L to R: Clifford A. Thompson, C.C. Combest, Lee Rice
Clifford Alvin Thompson was born July 29, 1919 in Williamson, West Virginia to Frank and Mabel Thompson. He grew up with his three sisters, Clara, June, and Janice and through high school worked in his father’s business. Following graduation from Williamson High School Clifford enrolled in the University of Kentucky on a voice scholarship. Nine days after Pearl Harbor was attacked, on December 16, 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp as an Aviation Cadet at Fort Hayes, Columbus, Ohio.
He completed his flight training and was awarded his wings at AFS, Lake Charles, LA. and received further training at MacDill and other Fields. His sister June relates that once “Cliff was on a training run close enough to West Virginia that he buzzed Williamson several times. We knew he was going to do it, and as I was walking to work I stopped a perfect stranger and said, ‘That's my brother!’ However, no one at the local radio station knew, and the station manager, a high school chum of Cliff’s, kept trying to tell him on the air where some little field was, because she thought he was in distress. He could hear her, but he couldn't radio her. Once she found out the truth, she refused to ever speak to him again. I guess it WAS embarrassing for her - Exciting for us”
Eventually Clifford was transferred to the ETO arriving there on March 9, 1944 and served in that theater until December 19, 1944 with the 599th BS, 397th BG. Cliff and his crew named their plane “Lassie Come Home”. He was released from active duty Oct. 6, 1946 at the rank of Major.
Blessed with a fine tenor voice, following separation from the Air Force, Clifford studied voice in Italy and then sang in Houston Opera, Theatre Under the Stars, Church Choir and Light Opera. He made his home in Houston, Texas where he married and had two daughters, Catherine and Amanda. He was an inveterate golfer and a successful insurance broker.
Clifford died of cancer on June 10, 1987 and is buried in the
VA cemetery in Houston. Catherine and Amanda.