Warrant Officer Class One Wally Thompson, OAM farewelled

Family, friends and former colleagues gathered at the Garrison Church in the Rocks, Sydney today to commemorate the life of Wally Thompson, the Australian Army’s first Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A).

Wally’s life was celebrated in a heartfelt and dignified service by those who both loved and respected him and his work the most.

Current RSM-A, Warrant Officer Class One Dave Ashley knew Wally for over 30 years. He reflected on the lessons Wally had taught him and spoke highly of the work, spirit and profound legacy Wally leaves behind.

“Wally was not just an Australian soldier. He is the Australian soldier. I remember Wally with pride. I remember him in faith. He will always be my mate and I thank him for showing us our opportunities.

“God bless you, Wally. God bless your family. Your duty is done. Rest in peace. Duty first!” Warrant Officer Ashley said.

Wally served with distinction for 37 years from 1950 to 1987. His journey through the ranks of the armed forces saw him conscripted in 1950 under the National Service Scheme before he enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1954. During his military career Wally saw operational service in Malaya and three tours in Vietnam, he was wounded on his second tour of Vietnam. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 1977 and was appointed the first RSM-A in 1983.

In retirement, Wally remained in touch with his Army friends and colleagues, continuing to contribute ideas when his guidance was sought as an elder statesman of the Army community.

Current serving generals and RSMs including General David Hurley, Chief of Defence Force; Major General Jeff Sengelman, representing the Chief of Army; Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie (Retd); and former RSM-As Warrant Officers Woods, Boughton, Rosemond, Prewett and Francis also attended to pay their respects.

Wally passed away peacefully at Bankstown Hospital on Thursday, 19 April 2012 aged 79.

Further details on Wally’s journey through the ranks are available on the Army website http://www.army.gov.au/Our-work/News-and-media/Vale-Wally-Thompson

An official portrait of RSM-A Warrant Officer Class One Wally Thompson, OAM is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003=&search=11122782