Robert Elliot Thompson
Biography of Robert Elliot Thompson
Robert Elliott (Bob) Thompson (June 28, 1921-November 19, 2003) was a top political writer and Washington journalist known for his sharp analysis and crisp writing of political affairs, who knew and covered every president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. Over the course of a long career he rose through the ranks to become, among other things, a White House correspondent, publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and national editor and Washington D.C. bureau chief for Hearst Newspapers. He also worked as John F. Kennedy's press secretary in the late 1950's, quitting just prior to the then-Senator's presidential campaign.
Thompson was born in Los Angeles and lived there until the start of World War II. Fresh out of high school, he joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was stationed in the South Pacific until the end of the war. As a radioman on a PBY Catalina in the famed Black Cats Squadron stationed in the Solomon Islands, he participated in numerous bombing runs on the Japanese Fleet, as well as reconnaissance and search-and-rescue missions.
He was involved in several key battles during the war as the allies pushed northward, including the Battle of Vella Lavella, the Bougainville Campaign and the liberation of the Philippine Islands. He once came under fire when a Japanese Mitsubishi G4M attacked Canton Island where his crew had stopped to refuel on their way to Guadalcanal and watched from a short distance as a direct hit completely destroyed his PBY-5A.
After the war he attended Indiana University where he studied journalism and received the Ernie Pyle award, became the editor of the Daily Student, the school's newspaper, and served on the student governing board. After graduation in 1949 with a B.A. in journalism, Thompson joined the staff of the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana, his first job as a reporter. Many years later he returned to his Alma Mater as the Ernie Pyle lecturer on journalism.