A WWII Marine was finally brought home to Moccasin, Montana and laid to rest. Family, friends, and patriots gathered in the Central Montana town to give Lt. Gordon Thompson a proper goodbye, over eight decades later.

According to his official obituary posted by Creel Funeral Homes, Thompson was born in Moccasin on June 15, 1920. He was described as "a talented student and rancher" who won numerous junior livestock awards at ages as young as 10.

His talents only grew, as, according to the Great Falls Tribune, he won first place in beef cattle, dairy cattle, milking shorthorns, and draft horse team at the 26th annual Moccasin picnic in 1935. He was president of his local FFA chapter and elected “state farmer” for the organization in 1937. He graduated from Moccasin High School that same year at the top of his nine-person class, giving the valedictorian’s address at his graduation ceremony on May 19.

Lt. Thompson first went missing on August 31st of 1942 and officially was declared "non-recoverable" in 1949. The big break to identify Lt. Thompson came in 2018.

In 2018, local resident Celestine Baba presented Thompson’s ID tags to DPAA personnel on site after locating them in his garden in a small valley between Henderson Field and Mount Austen, near a wreckage site. On July 23 of that year, a DPAA investigative team went to Baba’s garden and found wreckage consistent with an F4F on the valley’s western slope, along with bone material scattered on the eastern slope. Through DNA testing, the DPAA was able to identify Thompson.

Lt. Thompson was laid to rest on June 7th in Moccasin.

Amy Nelson is a great photographer with The Billings Gazette who made the trip to Moccasin to cover the service. (Click here to view several of the photos she took at the service)

Amy Nelson: Gordon's sister Jean, who's 87 years old, she was at the funeral and you could tell that it was just very fresh for her. Even though eight decades had passed, but it was still a very fresh wound for her.

It means so much to the family members that the US Military was actually able to bring him home.

Amy Nelson: Absolutely. And for the whole community of Moccasin and the surrounding area, especially people fromLewistown and Hobson to, you know, just to have that opportunity to see him come home and be laid to rest.

Click below for the full audio of our conversation with Amy Nelson in the 2nd half of the 8A hour of our statewide radio show on Friday:

Credit Amy Nelson Billings Gazette
Credit Amy Nelson Billings Gazette

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