Those who are no longer with us are, in a certain way, still a part of NMA reunions.
Leafing through memorabilia on display in our registration room, I came across this photo from the 1997 reunion.
Jim Thumpston was--and still is-- a legend in Navy music. Hundreds of MUs remember "Thumper" from his long tour at the School of Music as Head of the Theory Department and Head of Advanced Courses. But Master Chief Thumpston's influence was greatest as our instructor in Leadership. He taught it the old-fashioned way: by example.
And oh, what an example he was. "I Was Chewed Out by Thumper" stories abound. The details of each story differ, but they all follow the same 4-step format:
- I screwed up.
- Thumper chewed me out royally.
- I was P.O.'d at Thumper.
- Years went by and I realized Thumper had been right.
As a member of the school's staff, I finally got to know Jim not as an authority figure but as a shipmate. For a few months I even shared an office with this guy who turned out to be warm, personable and who cared deeply about every student in every one of his classes.
His office was right down a busy passageway from his third-deck classroom, but it was always surprisingly quiet in the environs.
Students tiptoed carefully past Master Chief Thumpston's office.