Special Forces Officer Shot by Afghan Interpreter
A Special Forces officer who lived with his wife and two young daughters in Pinehurst lost his life Friday in Wardak Province in Afghanistan.
Capt. David J. Thompson, 39, died after an Afghan interpreter shot him and another American soldier, Spc. Marc P. Decoteu, 19, who also died. Another U.S. soldier killed the interpreter, who was said to be a civilian resident of the United States working for the Army.
He became angry during a dispute with Thompson and Decoteau over pay and the quality of his work and opened fire, the military said.
The incident was reported Saturday by Reuters, but no names were released at that time. The Department of Defense (DOD) reported the deaths of Thompson and Decateau on Tuesday in a press release.
"The incident is still under investigation," DOD said but did not mention the dispute, the interpreter, or the shooting.
Late Thursday afternoon in a telephone interview DOD public information officer Lt. Col. Mark Wright confirmed to The Pilot that Thompson and Decoteay were in fact the two soldiers the irate interpreter killed. Reuters had reported the incident on Saturday without identifying anyone.
Finding fluent interpreters has been a continuing concern to the military. Afghan interpreters can pose a security risk, as enemies sometimes try to plant spies and even suicide bomber in interpreter positions. The Army has a hard time finding American citizens who can speak Dari, a common Afghan language, well enough. Often interpreters are infuriated when faced with losing the job and being sent back, according to military reports.
Thompson is survived by his wife, Emily, and their two daughters, Isabelle and Abigail. His parents, Charles and Freida Thompson, live in Hinton, Okla.
The two girls attend Episcopal Day School in Southern Pines, where a private memorial service took place Tuesday morning. A funeral service at Grace Church is to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday. He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, the Army said.
Thompson commanded Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3334, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). He had held that position since January 2009.
This was Thompson's second deployment to Afghanistan, according to the Army. He also served in Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti as well as multiple state humanitarian assistance deployments with the North Carolina National Guard.
Thompson enlisted in 1989 and took his basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. He then went on to do advanced training as a radio operator. Early in his career, he served as a radio telephone operator and team chief with a Ranger regiment, then as a communications sergeant in the regiment.
He was a rifle squad leader and platoon sergeant in Alaska with 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment and later as a staff noncommissioned officer with the Command Operations Center, U.S. Army Alaska.
In May 2002, Thompson completed a bachelor's degree in chemistry at East Carolina University while serving with the 514th Military Police Company (North Carolina Army National Guard). He was commissioned as a chemical officer after graduation.
Following his officer basic course, the Army assigned Thompson to 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., as the division chemical logistics officer. In March 2003, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment and served as a battle captain and rifle platoon leader during Operation Enduring Freedom.
From June 2004 to November 2005, he served as the battalion adjutant and rear detachment commander. From August 2008 to December 2008, he was executive officer for Company C, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and held that position until deploying to Afghanistan and taking command of ODA 3334 in January 2009.
Thompson's military education included the U.S. Army Airborne School, Ranger school, free fall parachutist course, basic military mountaineering course and the chemical officer basic course, the Army said.
His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, Army Commendation Medal (four), Army Achievement Medal (three), Army Good Conduct Medal (three), National Defense Service Medal (two), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge (Basic), and Ranger Tab.
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