Woodrow R. Thompson

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For United States Navy ships with this name, see USS Woodrow R. Thompson.
Woodrow Reginald Thompson
Born (1919-03-12)March 12, 1919
Belva, West Virginia
Died October 9, 1942(1942-10-09) (aged 23)
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1940–1942
Rank Sergeant
Unit 1st Marine Division
Battles/wars Guadalcanal campaign, World War II
Awards Navy Cross

Woodrow R. Thompson (1919–1942) was a United States Marine Corps sergeant who received a posthumous Navy Cross for his actions in the Guadalcanal campaign during World War II.


Woodrow Reginald Thompson was born on 12 March 1919 at Belva, West Virginia. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on 12 January 1940 at Charleston, West Virginia. He went through "recruit training" at Parris Island, South Carolina, then served at Marine Corps Base Quantico at Quantico, Virginia; Guantanamo Bay Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Parris Island, attaining promotions to private first class, on 20 September 1940, to corporal on 1 September 1941, and to sergeant on 1 July 1942.

When his unit, the 1st Marine Division, was sent to Guadalcanal in 1942, Sergeant Thompson went with it. There, his platoon took part in operations designed to drive the Imperial Japanese Army's 4th Infantry Regiment from a bridgehead at the mouth of the Matanikau River.

On the evening of 8 October 1942, the Marines dug in for the night in the steaming jungle. Soon the Japanese launched a desperate counter-attack against the hastily prepared Marine positions, charging against the thinly held right flank of the American lines. Fierce fighting ensued. Small arms, automatic weapons, and hand grenades were the principal weapons. Desperate hand-to-hand combat took place in the night as the Japanese sought to escape envelopment.

Sergeant Thompson refused to be dislodged from his position and gave his life early on 9 October 1942, "after exacting a tremendous toll on the enemy."[1]


For his devotion to duty and "extraordinary heroism,"[1] Thompson received a posthumous Navy Cross; the 1st Marine Division subsequently received a Presidential Unit Citation.


The United States Navy destroyer escort USS Woodrow R. Thompson (DE-451) was named for Sergeant Thompson, but her construction was cancelled in 1944.

The destroyer USS Woodrow R. Thompson (DD-721) then was named in honor of Sergeant Thompson. She was launched in 1946, but her construction was cancelled, and she was sold for scrapping incomplete in 1955.


  1. ^ a b This quote, from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entry for USS Woodrow R. Thompson (DE-451) and USS Woodrow R. Thompson (DD-721) (at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/w10/woodrow_r_thompson.htm) is unattributed.