From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Henry Thompson, Jr. '39

Date of birth: June 26, 1915

Date of death: August 19, 1940

Age: 25

Naval Academy Register

Henry Clayton Thompson, Jr. was admitted to the Naval Academy from Muskegon Heights, Michigan on July 9, 1935 at age 20 years 0 months.

On February 24, 1936: "Resignation accepted while final action was pending on deficiencies in studies, first term's work."



Henry was lost on August 19, 1940 when the BT-14 training plane he was piloting crashed in Disbrow Park, New York. The other crewman aboard was also killed.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Henry was born in Macon, Georgia. In 1930, his family lived in Jackson, Mississippi. His father was a commercial traveler for a dry goods company. In 1904 his mother Flora was a saleswoman for a silver company in Muskegon. She had been living at her brother’s house, without her husband, since at least 1935.

In March 1934, Michigan Representative Musselwhite named Henry principal for the Naval Academy’s upcoming vacancy in June. However, Henry did not enter the Naval Academy until July 1935. After leaving the Naval Academy, Henry, known as “Hank,” attended Michigan State’s forestry school. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

His airplane training was done at Randolph and then Kelly field with graduation on March 23, 1940.

On June 23, 1940, Henry married Betty Mae Crane at the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City. She was one of the dancing Crane twins in the Broadway show “Hellzapoppin’.” Her identical twin was Beverly.

In July, Henry came to Mitchel Field. He and the other flyer in the fatal crash were members of Major Francis B. Valentine’s "5th Squadron".

His Veterans Affairs card lists his DoB and that he enlisted on his birthday (June 26) in 1939. It does not give his promotion date. The Brooklyn Eagle of August 15, 1940 reported he had been stationed at Mitchel Field, New York, since May. In March he graduated from being a flying cadet at Kelly Field, Texas.

Henry was survived by his parents; he is buried in Michigan.

Memorial Hall Error

Henry is not listed with his classmates in Memorial Hall. This omission was discovered by researcher Kathy Franz.

Class of 1939

Henry is one of 80 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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