Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jacob Thompson laid to rest

With solemn military pageantry, and many stories of honor, dedication — and fishing — Staff Sgt. Jacob Thompson was eulogized and laid to rest Saturday in Mankato.

The 26-year-old North Mankato native was killed in action in Iraq Aug. 6.

Monroe Elementary teacher Steve Miller — Thompson’s fifth-grade teacher — said he remembered trying different approaches to reach the youngster in school. “When I talked about reading, he talked about hunting with his brother. When I talked about math, he talked about fishing,” Miller said.

But Thompson was engrossed when the studies turned to American history, hard-fought freedoms and bravery. Miller said at the end of the year, many students give him a coffee cup or cards of thanks. Thompson gave him fishing lures he’d made — lures that since that day have stayed on Miller’s classroom desk.

They stayed in touch as Thompson went through middle and high school, talking about fishing and, later, Thompson’s joining the Army and his deployment to Iraq.

“In the fall, three years ago, I was teaching and we looked out the window and there was a soldier in full fatigues saluting,” Miller said. “Jacob came in the class and we talked, and he told the class what he did. One girl raised her hand and said, ‘My mom says you’re a hero.’”

“Jacob looked at her and said, ‘No, I’m a soldier.”

Thompson would return to Miller’s class each of the next two years when he was on leave, talking to students, catching up, talking about fishing. His ties to the school led students there to write more than 5,000 letters to troops around the world.

Miller said he knows he’ll look out his classroom window this fall and think of Thompson.

“He was my friend. I knew him when he was young Jake. I knew him as Jacob, a guy who’d give you the shirt off his back. I knew him as Staff Sgt. Jacob Thompson — a soldier, a hero.”

Eric Berry, a cousin from Florida, recalled Thompson’s renowned fishing skills and the fishing trips to Canada, northern Minnesota, Florida. “Jake not only fished, but he caught,” Berry said.

Berry said while there may be differing views on the war in Iraq, Thompson knew precisely and confidently what he was there for.

From the Mankato Free Press

Related Link:
Jacob Thompson remembered by family

Related Link:
Jacob Thompson reported killed in Iraq