02/09/06 — Goldsboro High grad retires after handling transportation

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Goldsboro High grad retires after handling transportation

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 9, 2006 1:50 PM

For the past five years, a Goldsboro native has been directing the operations of the vehicle fleet that serves the nation's leaders in Washington, D.C.

Sgt. 1st Class Ray Thompson, a 1984 graduate of Goldsboro High School, has been in charge of the White House transportation agency that ferries top government officials, including President George Bush, in and around the nation's capitol.

Thompson is retiring after 20 years in the military. His expertise in logistics and supply earned him the Washington post. He said he plans to seek work as a civilian contractor in Washington after his retirement becomes official in a few months.

Picture with President Bush

Submitted photo

Sgt. First Class Ray Thompson is shown with his father, Rufus, and President Bush in a White House photo taken in mid-December. Thompson is retiring this year after more than 20 years in the U.S. Army. He has been in charge of transportation needs for many of the top officials in Washington, D.C.

In his capacity as property book officer, Thompson was charged with making sure that the limousines that carry the president, vice president, Cabinet members and Pentagon officials were always at the ready, fueled up and well-maintained and that drivers were trained and prepared.

"I made sure they had all the logistical stuff they needed," Thompson said on a recent visit to Goldsboro to see his father, Rufus Thompson.

In December, the elder Thompson was invited to have his photograph taken with the president and his son, in recognition of Ray's contributions and pending retirement.

"I was real proud," he said.

Thompson, 40, attended North Carolina A&T University before joining the Army. He now lives in Dumfries, Va.

Thompson said the most memorable moments of his time in Washington came on Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States came under attack by terrorists.

"That was the most stressful time," he said. "The radios weren't working, and we had to depend on cell phones. I passed by the Pentagon about 15 minutes before it was hit. Someone called and told me, and I told them I knew they had hit New York but they told me they had struck the Pentagon, too."

He said the way both military personnel and civilians immediately joined in the rescue effort at the Pentagon will forever stand out in his mind.

"Just the show of support from the people there, people volunteering in every capacity, that really impressed me, their show of support for the soldiers," Thompson said.