Betty Thompson spent more than 20 years in the United States Army and retired in 2013 as a First Sargent.
Thompson spent the first few years in the Armed Forces as a combat heavy engineer. While working onside in Macedonia as an engineer, she learned about another role in the military that piqued the then-19-year-olds interest.
“While I was doing the construction work, because we were pouring cement and laying the foundation,” Thompson said. “All of a sudden, I see journalists coming around with a camera. They were taking photographs, they asked me questions. I asked them ‘What's your specialty?’ They told me, journalist. I did not know there is such a thing in the military. They said yes.”
After that meeting Thompson said she was able to reclassify her specialty because there was a demand for more journalists in the Army. In the years since her reclassification Thompson rose through the ranks and eventually led a team of journalists who were tasked to go into combat and non-combat zones to capture footage, interviews to tell meaningful and impactful stories.
While leading her unit of Army Journalists, Thompson wanted to make sure they had the skill set needed in active combat zones. She had her soldiers train with infantry units to understand how to position themselves in the event of a firefight or while patrolling potentially dangerous areas.
“My job was to train the soldiers to survive on the battlefield,” Thompson said. “I had them trained with infantry units. I wanted to make sure they know where to position themselves, so they were not in the way but still capturing that footage that we needed.”
Thompson credits her time as a combat heavy engineer for helping her lead the team of journalists and helping them reach their potential. As Thompson reached the end of her active duty, she continued to set up and execute interviews at major shows including David Letterman and Rachel Ray in New York with the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.
After retiring from active duty, Thompson relocated to Texas and currently serves as an educator at a mixed age elementary school. Thompson said she was able to earn her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s in education while she was in still serving in the military.
Thompson will be honored as the Hero of the Match during the Houston Dash game against OL Reign on Saturday, June 17. Joining her will be her daughter Laura, who is a student at the University of Houston and her son.