Being a Gold Star Sibling is a tricky thing. There is a closed group of us on Facebook posting about our siblings, or just general life, throughout the year. As you can imagine, birthdays, ‘death’days and holidays are the hardest, all of us doing our best to support one another throughout the year. It shames me to admit that I cringe every time a new member is added and they introduce themselves. Circumstances are never identical, but you yearn to reach out to people because you just ‘get it’. Frustration, happiness, bewilderment, sadness, pride – all feelings that numerous of us have expressed during the time in the group.
Today Alisa Mueller, a fellow runner, commented that she did a Boot Camp workout at 530 in the morning to honor her brother CPT. David “JP” Thompson; whose death was just four years ago. I immediately sent her a message, asking if it was ok to run in honor of her brother, as well as post about him here. In our message exchange she said, “He started me on this running path before he left for his third tour in Afghanistan and I’ve been running ever since. I call myself "Jp’s Running Girl." His daughters and wife along with my cousins have all run in his honor.” As a runner, we all know not every run/workout goes smoothly… to this she adds, “But any time I think i can’t do anything, i think off he went through for the special forces training and his ranger tab and I put one more foot forward.” I have to admit, I know little to nothing about the Ranger or Special Forces, but I do know that not only is training grueling, but missions are elite and dangerous. YouTube videos for Special Forces training, here; Rangers, here.
From what I can gather from both his sister and online memorials, JP was a heck of a soldier, and becoming one was at the forefront of his mind since he was a child. Enlisting in 1989, he went on numerous deployments, including humanitarian aid missions with the North Carolina National Guard. He then commissioned (this is Army talk for becoming an officer) after earning his Bachelor’s in Chemistry. Along with his sister and parents, CPT Thompson left behind his loving wife and two gorgeous daughters. I thought about he and his family, especially Alisa, the duration of my run. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t have to fight back tears numerous times, especially while sprinting past the post cemetary with the white headstones lined up in neat diagonals. Sometimes it is hard to remember that you’re not the only one in this situation, but with that comes the realization that another family hurts the way you hurt, saw the Chaplains you saw, and possibly even have the Gold Star Banner on their car too. The run truly tested me – 4 miles of indecisive wind, cold temperatures, and stomach cramps I’ve never had in my life. I wanted to turn around and come home, but what good would my promise be to Alisa? It wouldn’t be fair, and how could I possibly complain about 37 minutes of putting one foot in front of the other, while CPT Thompson could no longer run?
Alisa and her nieces.
Running for CPT Thompson and his family today made it all worthwhile. I want to thank Alisa and family for letting me do this. I hope today brings you all peace, and nothing but happy memories of JP.
Alisa also mentioned that his youngest daughter referred to it as his “happy hat.”