WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Green Bay native is now immortalized in a room at the Pentagon.
The Gumption Room is named in honor of retired Navy Rear Adm. Bill Thompson. According to Navy officials, the meeting room inside the office of the Navy Chief of Information has become a mini-memorial, displaying photos and memorabilia from Thompson’s career, both as an active duty public affairs officer and as a retiree who became a driving force behind the creation of the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington.
Thompson was the first Navy Chief of Information, serving in that role from 1971-1975.
“Gumption” became one of Thompson’s personal buzzwords, Navy officials say, after a conversation he had with his grandfather at age 13. It was also featured in the title of his 2010 autobiography, “Gumption – My Life, My Words.”
Thompson joined the Navy as an ensign in 1945, after he graduated from the U.S. Navy Midshipman School at the University of Notre Dame. He served tours in Guam as editor of the Guam News; onboard the battleship USS Missouri; and during the Korean War, served on the aircraft carrier USS Midway and destroyer USS John R. Craig. He was Public Information Officer on the staff of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet, and later in the Commander First Fleet Staff in San Diego. He was also Special Assistant for Public Affairs to three Secretaries of the Navy.
Thompson also helped build momentum for the construction of the U.S. Navy Memorial in 1987 an the “Lone Sailor” statue at the memorial.
After 32 years of active duty service, Thompson ran a public relations consulting firm, Admiralty Communications Inc. He lives in McLean, Va., with his wife Dorothy “Zum” Thompson, a former teacher at Green Bay West High School.
The Gumption Room was dedicated in November.