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Marine retires after 30 years of service

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | June 18, 2009

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Marines, friends, family members and civilian-Marines gathered Friday to take part in a retirement ceremony for Master Gunnery Sgt. Ira L. Thompson Jr., adjutant, Marine Corps Logistics Command.

Thompson was retired from the Marine Corps during a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., after 30 years of honored service.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1979, at the age of 17, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif.

Upon completion of recruit training, Thompson attended Infantry Training School at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and was assigned to 3d Battalion, 4th Marines in Okinawa, Japan, as a rifleman.

Throughout his 30 year career, Thompson served in numerous billets at many duty stations including both within the U.S. and overseas.

During the ceremony, Thompson shared his wisdom with the Marines in formation saying that focus was the reason he was able to achieve his rank.

“Nobody ever told me I would be a master guns,” Thompson said. “My favorite word is focus, if you focus on the task at hand you will be able to accomplish what you wish. You have got to want it.”

Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, officiated the retirement and told the assembled crowd that Thompson was a perfect speaker and role model to young Marines.

“I would always see him as the keynote speaker at presentations and he was always talking to people,” Williams said. “I soon realized why he was so good at talking. He was a recruiter.”

Thompson said that young Marines must believe that nothing is out of reach and to never be discouraged.

“You have to believe that nothing is out of reach and it all can be accomplished,” he said. “You just have to take it one day at a time, step-by-step and never let discouragement, regardless if it is from yourself or from a friend, hold you back.”

Thompson summed up his time in the Marine Corps with one word, change.

“I have watched America change since 1979 to where we are today,” he said. “I never would believe the changes that I’ve seen from our president to Major General Williams, who I first met when he was a colonel. Now to see him as a two star general is awesome.”

Thompson said he loved what he did in the Marine Corps and was grateful for his experiences.

He also gave some advice to the younger Marines to remember, “you are servants.”

“Focus on what you are doing and remember who you are serving. It’s not so much about serving here at the command, but you are serving America,” Thompson said.  “America counts on us. Sometimes we forget that they count on us. Regardless of the situation, America counts on us and when they call we need to be ready and continue to stay focused.”

Thompson said retirement is not the end of his journey. He will continue to travel with his wife, Danielle, who has been in the Navy for 13 years and just finished her registered nurse program.

He said that he has many plans for the next couple of years and that he is excited about the possibilities that await him.

“I strongly believe that I’ve made it halfway through the course, and I’m looking forward,” said Thompson. “I can’t wait to see what happens.”

His personal decorations for his military service include the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three gold stars, and the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement medal.


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