Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Richard “Dick” Wesley Thompson
Dick was born in Minot, ND on May 7, 1932, to Arthur and Amy Thompson as the youngest of 4 boys. All of Dick’s brothers served in the military - two during WWII flying missions over Germany - which had a huge influence on Dick’s eventual career. Dick received an appointment to West Point but didn’t pass the physical due to his crooked teeth, so instead he went to North Dakota State University (Go Bison!) where he was member of ROTC and graduated in 1954 with a BS in Industrial Engineering. He took his first job at Boeing in Tacoma, WA but he always knew he wanted to fly airplanes, so he jumped at the opportunity when the Air Force asked him to consider joining as active duty, starting his illustrious Air Force career in 1958. Dick rose quickly through the ranks and was promoted to Colonel and Squadron Commander in 1975. Over the course of his military career, he was stationed at various assignments including Florida, Tacoma, Madrid, California, Saudi Arabia, Panama, New Jersey, and finally Albuquerque, New Mexico.
While he was stationed in Madrid, Spain in 1964, he met the love of his life, Juanita Inchausti, who was an officer and nurse in the Air Force at the time. They were introduced by mutual friends and immediately hit it off. Dick and Juanita were married on August 21, 1965, at St. Charles Catholic Parish in Hailey, Idaho. Not only did Dick gain a wife with his marriage, but he became an adopted member of Juanita's large Basque family, a culture which he appreciated and loved. Since Juanita was a whole 4 1/2 years younger than Dick, he lovingly referred to her as his “child bride” - a joke he continued to use for their 58 years of marriage!
Dick and Juanita moved to Travis AFB, California after Juanita resigned her commission and Dick received a new assignment. They welcomed their first child, Richard Arthur on June 8, 1966, quickly followed by Paul Edward on December 26, 1967, and Christina Raquel on December 17, 1968. Dick received orders for an overseas assignment that took him to Saudia Arabia for a year and during this time, Juanita and her (very) young brood lived with Juanita’s mom, Epifania (“Epi”) Inchausti in Hailey, ID. After Dick’s assignment in Saudi Arabia ended in 1970, Dick received orders to deploy to Howard Air Force Base in Panama and the family joined him for his jungle assignment. Dick and Juanita welcomed their fourth child, James Michael, on January 6, 1972. Dick’s next assignment came in 1974 when he was given an opportunity to move to McGuire AFB in New Jersey. On February 9, 1977, Dick and Juanita welcomed their (surprise!) fifth and last child, William Joseph (“BJ”).
During his military career, Dick flew a variety of aircraft, including the T-33, T-38, C-124 Globemaster, and C-130 Hercules, but his favorite was the C-141 Starlifter, which was a troop and cargo transport aircraft. In his role, he flew troop transport into and out of Vietnam during the war and flew supplies and medical personnel for multiple humanitarian missions, including life-saving aid following a catastrophic earthquake in Nicaragua in 1972. The various missions transporting troops is why he referred to his squadron jokingly as “the bus drivers of the sky”. Dick was a commander of the Bully Beef C-141 squadron from 1975 until he was medically grounded in 1977 following his brain surgery at Walter Reed Hospital. Unlike many people, Dick did not wallow in self-pity about no longer being able to be a pilot, but instead jumped into his new job “flying a desk” in personnel with all of the enthusiasm and determination to do the best job possible that anybody who knew Dick would expect. In 1980, Dick accepted what turned out to be his final Air Force assignment to be the Director of Personnel at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM, where he and Juanita remained for the next 35 years. Dick retired from the military as a full Colonel after what he called the “30 best years of my life” in 1985.
Following his retirement from the military, Dick transitioned into employment for the State of New Mexico, first as the Director of Licensing and Regulation and then as the Executive Director of the Board of Pharmacy until his official retirement. After retirement, Dick proudly served on the board of directors of Sandia Area Federal Credit Union for a number of years. Dick and Juanita then moved to Boise in 2014 to be closer to their grandchildren.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers, and his fourth child, James. He is survived by Juanita, son Rich (Jaime and children Dylan and Max), son Paul (Mari and children Devin and Brian), daughter Christina (Brad and children Kyle and Ryan), and son BJ (Will Whitehouse). Dick will be missed by all that had the honor of knowing him, but especially by his family.
Memorial services will be held Monday, February 5, and will include a rosary at 9:30 AM with a mass at 10:00, both at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise, ID. Following the rosary and mass, there will be a military burial at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery and a celebration of life at the Basque Center. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Dick’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association (https://www.alz.org/). Fly with the eagles, Colonel.