Sunday, May 28, 2000

'You went on with your life'

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FOREST PARK — In 1967 in Vietnam, Ronald Thompson was food service sergeant for 1,500 U.S. troops and dozens of Viet Cong prisoners. He had 25 Vietnamese employees.

(Glenn Hartong photo)
        Sgt. Thompson made schedules, ordered rations and handled money — officers paids for their meals.

        “It was long hours, seven days a week,” said Mr. Thompson, 60, of Forest Park, “but it was like doing any other job.”

        Not quite. At night, the Viet Cong lit up the compound but didn't attack because their comrades were imprisoned there.

        He came home in 1968 and got out of the Army. He had served two years in Germany, 1957-59, and had been in the reserves prior to being called up. But four months later Mr. Thompson re-enlisted in the regular Army.

        “I liked it. It was good to me,” said Mr. Thompson, who made a career of the Army and retired as a warrant officer with a Sharonville-based unit in 1995. (He left the reserves in January.)

        He had a few nightmares about Vietnam after he returned to the United States.

        “But you didn't dwell on that stuff,” said Mr. Thompson, who is married and has four grown children. “You had a wife and kids to take care of. You didn't wallow. If you wasn't a bum before you left for Vietnam, why would you want to be a bum when you got home?”

        He simply followed the example set by his stepfather, the late Robert Moody, who was a staff sergeant in World War II.

        “You went and served your country as well as you could and you came back,” Mr. Thompson said. “The memories of what you saw overseas stay with you, but you went on with your life.”


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