North High School Wall of Honor
Omer Lilburn Thompson
Class of January, 1950
Research done by Claradell Shedd, class of 1953.
Omer Lilburn Thompson

Omer graduated from North High in the class of January, 1950. In 1952, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving his boot camp at the San Diego Naval Training Station. From San Diego, he saw service in the Pacific aboard the destroyer USS DeHaven (DD-727), stationed at Sasebo, Japan.. Thereafter, for a short period of time, he was aboard a sister destroyer ship, the USS Mansfield (DD-728). Following these duty stations, he was sent to the Great Lakes, IL U.S. Naval Training Center, the location from which he was discharged.

Omer was a RD3 with the US Navy. His listed next of kin was O.L. Thompson, Sr., RR#4, Des Moines, IA.
His service number is 3241658. He was discharged in 1954 at the Great Lakes Training Center, IL.

USS DeHaven (DD-727) USS Mansfield (DD-728)

USS DeHaven (DD-727):
September 15, 1952; Long Beach, California
It was Monday, sunny and clear, as the crew went to quarters for muster. The last liberty in the States was over and at 1000 all departments reported ready for getting underway. A short time later all lines were clear and we led the way out between Pier 1 and the Navy Yard Mole. All hands top side took a last look at the dummy hanging from the square-rigged sailing vessel tied at the Pier and then contemplated their future.

The new men wondered and the old hands worried, for the DeHaven was returning to the Western Pacific for the third time since the start of Korean hostilities. The previous tours had seen her visit Inchon with the famous "Sitting Ducks", on patrol along the West Coast, working along the Bomb-line and with Task Force 77. Her fine record was known to all; and, even though two thirds of her crew were new, all hands were certain this cruise would be just as successful as the previous ones.

On clearing the breakwater the word was passed, "Now set the Condition three watch". Old hands muttered under their breath, and new men stumbled uncertainly to their stations as the training began. There would be drills and more drills before the ship would be completely battle ready, and this was our last chance.

We joined the Los Angeles and Oriskany off of San Diego and set our course for Pearl, the Swenson and ourselves taking the usual destroyer screening stations. Inter-ship exercise began, and by the time the final "proceed independently to enter port" was received and we started into the Pearl Harbor Channel, all hands had an idea of what would be expected in the coming Task Force Operations.

In spite of the big heads our training continued as we chased submarines and conducted gunnery exercises on Kahoalawake Island. For many this was the first time the guns were fired, but the results were surprisingly good. We had our share of plane guard too, as we chased the Oriskany during carrier operations.

All was not training, however, for we shared an air-sea rescue task with the Mansfield. It involved running at full speed all night long to participate in the down rescue of two men who had parachuted from their Navy dive-bomber. One man required the service of the squadron doctor, as he lay injured on the cliff of one of the islands.

After seventeen days we took our leave from the islands and headed westward with the Swenson and Oriskany. More drills and training, including several new methods of fueling, plus navigational assist to a group of air force jets island-hopping their way to Japan, and then we were in Yokosuka.

The new men hardly had a chance to get acquainted for 36 hours later "Duty called" and we sailed with the rest of DESDIV 91 to take our individual post with Task Force 95. Our "Call" took us along the South coast of the Japanese Island, through the beautiful Shimoniseki Straits to the Songjin-Chongjin area of the Korean east coast. Shortly after our arrival the Captain relieved as Unit Commander and for the next 36 days we coordinated the efforts of the several "UN" ships in their patrol and interdiction activities.

USS Mansfield (DD-728):
On 27 June 1950, two days after the North Korean invasion of South Korea, Mansfield steamed from Sasebo, Japan, to South Korea to provide gunfire support and escort services. Three months later, as flagship for DesDiv 91, she led the division into Inchon Channel, openly inviting shore batteries to unmask themselves. After the shore opened up upon her, Mansfield smothered them with a 5-inch bombardment; she suffered no damage or casualties in the action.

Two weeks after Inchon, Mansfield, while searching for a downed Air Force B-26, struck a mine which severed the bow below the main deck and seriously injured 27 crewmembers. Receiving a stub bow at Subic Bay, she steamed to Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington for repairs; rejoining the U.N. Fleet off South Korea late in 1951 for gunfire support, escort, and shore bombardment duty.

A comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Omer Lilburn Thompson's 1950 class can be viewed at:
As of 03/11/10, Omer resides in Des Moines, IA with his wife, Aileen.
Music: "Anchors Aweigh" by the U.S. Navy Band
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