Command Sergeant Major (Retired) William (Bill) R. Thompson, 74, of Waterford, succumbed to cancer in the comfort of his home surrounded by his family on September 26th, 2022. Bill was born on December 22, 1947, to William and Louise Thompson in Wausau, WI. He grew up hunting, trapping, fishing, and finding mischief. He graduated PJ Jacobs High School in Steven’s Point WI, in 1966 and enlisted in the Army in 1968.
He married the love of his life, Sandra L. Thompson (nee : Voeltner) on September 25th 1969. They spent their early life together in the Wausau area, enjoying spending time together outdoors.
Bill’s military service (28yrs) began in January 1968 when he joined the US Army serving on active duty including 2 tours in Vietnam with 9th Infantry Security Signal Division as a Communication Central Security Specialist. After leaving active duty he joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He served in 632D Armor Battalion as a Platoon Segreant Recon Combat Support Company Wausau WI, and First Sergeant C Company 632 Armor, Marinette WI. He was promoted to Command Sergeant Major and served with the 64th RAOC Battalion and the 1st Battalion 147th Aviation Madison. While serving Bill’s military accomplishments were many including:
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Star Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal Bronze
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm
Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 Device
Army Commendation Medal (3 Awards)
Army Achievement Medal
National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award)
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (5)
Armed Forces Reserve Medal (2)
Army Service Ribbon (3)
Good Conduct Medal
Overseas Service Ribbon
Wisconsin Servicer Ribbon (3)
NCO Professional Development medal (4)
After leaving active duty, Bill and Sandy settled in the Wausau are where Bill worked at Drott Tractor (later merged with JI Case Racine WI), beginning in 1973. He began as a Tow Motor Operator and worked hard to learn and advance his career over the years. The family moved to Burlington, WI in 1981 where Bill continued his career with JI Case. He later became the Field Salesperson for Construction Equipment in Kansas, eventually becoming the driving force to procure a major contract with the Pentagon to repair and refurbish construction equipment from Desert Storm and Desert Shield. This equipment was reconditioned both overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Ft McCoy WI for use in new projects and initiatives. He retired from J.I. Case as manager of Defense Products. Bill then started a new position with Trail King as Liaison for Military Trailer Equipment. After a few years he happily retired and became a full time Grandfather.
Grandpa Bill spent hours reading with his 5 grandchildren, teaching them countless lessons and skills, not the least of which was how to pull off a stellar prank and how to be good and kind human. He enjoyed watching the kids play sports, teaching them to fish and spending time up north. He and Sandy enjoyed traveling all over the world together, making memories and sharing a lot of love and laughter along the way.
Bill is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sandra Thompson, daughters Jennifer (Chris) Cammers; Elizabeth (Rob) Mueller, grandchildren Olivia, Riley and Delaney Cammers and Abby and Leah Mueller, sister Laura (Bruce) Phillips, Aunt and Uncle Tom and Jayne Gibbs, nieces and nephews Mandy Mayek, Kate (Mike) Burrows, Andrew (Mary) Phillips, Tim (Traci) Seavy, Rachel (Jaysun) Frisch and several great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Louise Thompson, sister, Catherine Thompson and in-laws, Walter, and Leah Voeltner.
Bill was an amazing, successful, and well-respected man, devoted to his family and his country. He was known to be quick witted, gruff at times, but Bill just being Bill. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
A celebration of life will be held at Integrity Celebration Center, (2789 Browns Lake Dr. Burlington, WI 53105), on October 9th, an open house visitation will begin at 1pm concluding with a short service at 3:30pm. The family requests friends and family to join in wearing Bill’s standard uniform of shorts (in all weather) and funny, often offensive, t-shirts.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bill’s memory to the Wisconsin Honor Flight.
Burial with Military Honors will be held at a later date at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, (21731 Spring St. Union Grove, WI 53182).
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight - Wisconsin
PO Box 867, Menomonee Falls WI 53052