Brig. Gen. James H. Thompson was born at Lansing, Michigan, on June 6, 1916. He graduated from Parker High School in Chicago, Illinois, and was later employed by the firm of Lamson and Sessions.
Brig. Gen. Thompson completed his basic and advanced flying training at Kelly Field, Texas. He received his commission and aeronautical rating as Pilot on March 23, 1940. His first assignment was at Mitchel Field, New York as a combat crew aircraft commander of a B-18. He has flown at least 30 different type aircraft starting with the PT-3 through the B-52.
During World War II, the general completed 70 combat missions in the Asiatic-Pacific and Atlantic Theater of Operations. During this period he also served as Squadron Commander in the Atlantic Theater and Operations Officer for the 39th Bombardment Group in the Marianas Islands. Shortly after World War II he served as Director of Operations of Atomic Bomb Tests in the Pacific Theater.
In 1947, he served as Bomb Wing Operations Officer of the first B-36 unit in the Air Force, located at Carswell AFB, Texas.
In 1951, he performed a tour of duty in Morocco, North Africa, serving as Director of Operations for the 5th Air Division.
In January 1952, he attended the B-47 Combat Crew Training course at Pinecastle AFB, Florida, and on completion returned to Hunter AFB, Georgia, to assume duty as Deputy Wing Commander of the 308th Bombardment Wing.
Moving to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, in March 1955, he served as Director of Operations at Headquarters, Second Air Force, until April 1958, when he departed to Homestead AFB, Florida, to serve as Wing Commander of the 19th Bombardment Wing.
In August 1960, he moved to Buckley Field, Colorado, to serve as a Site Activation Task Force Commander for Titan I missiles. In this position he was responsible for all aspects of successful site activation, including construction, installation and checkout, logistical support and turnover of the sites to the Strategic Air Command in an acceptable operational condition.
In 1962, he served as Director of Material for Headquarters, Second Air Force at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and in June 1964, assumed duty as Division Commander of the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division at Minot AFB, North Dakota.
Prior to assuming duty as Division Commander of 19th Air Division at Carswell AFB, Texas, Brig. Gen. Thompson spent 18 months in Vietnam assigned to 7th Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, as Deputy Chief of Staff Material and Deputy Chief of Staff Base Activation.
As 19th Air Division Commander at Carswell AFB, since April 24, 1967, Brig. Gen. Thompson exercised command jurisdiction over two B-52/KC-135 Strategic Aerospace Wings and two B-52/KC-135 Bomb Wings. These units are located on four bases. He makes frequent visits to these units to ascertain if they are constantly prepared to execute all or any portion of the Emergency War Order. He monitors the execution of plans, through his staff, to eliminate deficiencies and perfect operations, training, aircraft maintenance, launch readiness and support. He orders and evaluates periodic tests of the units to determine their capability to accomplish their assigned missions and act as Field Representative of the Commander, Second Air Force.
Decorations and Medals:
Command Pilot, Missile Badge, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Commendation Ribbon, Distinguished Unit Citation, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, Air Force Longevity Service Award with six oak leaf clusters, Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Korean Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (Order of Military Merit Chungmu), Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force Distinguished Service Order)