Vice Admiral D. C. “Deese” Thompson assumed the duties of Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Commander, U.S. Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic on May 27, 1986. He is responsible for all Coast Guard operations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes and Western Rivers, essentially everything east of the Rocky Mountains.
As Commander, Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic, Admiral Thompson is responsible to the U.S. Navy Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet for the planning, coordination and control of the integrated defense operations for U.S. Coastal areas.
Admiral Thompson came to his headquarters on Governors Island, New York from a two-year assignment as Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C. where he was the Coast Guard’s principal management and financial officer responsible for budgeting, planning and resource allocation.
Appointed Rear Admiral in 1979, his earlier flag officer assignments included Chief of Engineering (1979-1981) and Chief of Operations (1981-1982) in Coast Guard Headquarters, followed by a tour as Commander, Seventh Coast Guard District, Miami, Florida (1982-1984).
While in Miami, Admiral Thompson directed Coast Guard activities throughout the Southeast U.S. and the Caribbean where his 4500 personnel conducted high tempo operations in drug law enforcement, illegal alien interdiction, search and rescue and maritime safety.
Appointed as the Federal Coordinator for the Vice President’s South Florida Task Force on Crime, the Admiral was also coordinator for the Southeast Region of the National Narcotics Boarder Interdiction System. In these roles, he was responsible for coordinating and unifying the efforts of Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies focused on interdicting drug traffickers.
Admiral Thompson was born in Hollis, New York, raised in Erie, Pennsylvania and graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1952.
Following two sea duty assignments, including North Atlantic ice patrol and weather patrol, he completed Navy flight training and served at numerous aviation units from Alaska to Florida. His operational commands include Air Station Commanding Officer, Group Commander and Captain of the Port. The Admiral held District staff assignments as Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff. He served as Chief of Coast Guard Aeronautical Engineering in Coast Guard Headquarters, having received a Master of Science degree from Purdue University in 1966.
Admiral Thompson’s awards include the two Distinguished Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, four Coast Guard Commendation medals, Coast Guard Unit Commendation and Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal and others. The Admiral has accumulated 6,000 flight hours as a fixed wing and rotary wing aviator and is the Coast Guard’s “Ancient Albatross” – the earliest designated pilot on active duty.
Admiral Thompson is married to the former Jeanne Kline of Tionesta, Pennsylvania. They have six children.
A fellow and past National Director of the Society of American Military Engineers, the Admiral also served as director at large of the American Helicopter Society and member of the Board of Governors, National Aviation Club.