Saturday, February 23, 2013

SFC Gregory Thompkins, United States Army, Ret.

Gregory Thompkins was born February 20, 1957 at Philadelphia, Pa., and passed away January 22, 2013, at the age of 56.  He was a resident of Killeen, Texas at the time of his death.

Gregory proudly served in the United States Army for 20 years, and was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm.  After retiring, with the rank of Sergeant First Class, he spent the rest of his life working with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Temple, Texas.

Gregory's favorite activities were photography, photo restoration, scuba diving, traveling and artwork.  He loved to discuss and debate politics, history, religion and contemporary social issues.

On February 4 a funeral service was held at Heritage Funeral Home in Harker Heights, Texas.  On hand to welcome the arriving family and friends were the Patriot Guard Riders.  After the service, the funeral procession was led by the Riders to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, where the family was greeted by the fifty American flags blowing in the wind.

After the flag draped coffin was moved into the committal shelter, the Riders formed a line of flags along the front of the shelter, during the interment service.

The gathering was led in final prayers by Celebrant Rachel Dwyer.

Military Honors were then rendered by the Army Honor Detail.  The detail of five rifles fired three volleys of fire, representing Duty, Honor and Country, followed by the playing of taps.

The detail marched to the flag covered coffin, folded the American flag into a traditional triangle and placed three spent cartridges into the fold of the flag.

The folded flag was ceremoniously passed to an Army Non-Commissioned Officer.  He presented the flag to Gregory's brother, Colonel Victor Harmon, the Commanding Officer of Army's Distribution Management Center, on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for Gregory's honorable and faithful service.

The service concluded with the releasing of three white pigeons into the sky, representing Peace, Hope and Love.

SFC Gregory Thompkins was laid to rest on the hillside, as the American flag flew at half-staff, in his honor, at the top of the hill.

Left to cherish his memory are four brothers, his nieces and nephews and numerous other dear family and friends.

You cannot say, and you must not say,
That he is gone, he is away!
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land.
And left us dreaming how very fair,
Its needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you - On you, Who the wildest yearn,
For the old - time step and the glad return.
Think of him faring on, as dear,
In the love of There as the love of Here:
Think of him still as the same and say:
He is not gone - he is just away!

                 Gertrude Harmon

With thanks to Heritage Funeral Home for biographical information and image, and to Ceej Foy for additional photograph.

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