Joseph Patterson Thornton,
Jr., age 94 of Hampton, GA went to be with his Lord and savior, Jesus
Christ, April 23, 2016. Graveside services are to be held on Saturday,
April 30 at 12pm in the Fairview Memorial Gardens cemetery, Stockbridge,
GA. The family will receive friends Saturday from 11 am to 12 pm at Horis A. Ward Fairview Chapel Funeral Home.
His father, Joseph Patterson
Thornton, Sr., his mother, Pearle Wadsworth Thornton, and his sister,
Thelma Thornton Chantler, preceded him in death. He is survived by his
wife of 75 years, Gloria Grant Thornton of Hampton, sister, Joyce Thornton
Souther of Covington, daughter, Cindy (Mike) Mitchell of Campobello,
SC, daughter, Donna (Homer) Washburn of Hampton, son Dr. Joseph Patterson
(Holly) Thornton III of Snellville, Ga., grandson, Steve (Freda) Mitchell
of Pendleton, SC, granddaughter Kim (Mike) Swanson of Forest City, NC,
granddaughter Julie (Jeff) Souza of Concord, GA, granddaughter Carrie
(Christian) Washburn-Murray of McDonough, GA, grandson Adam Thornton
of Columbus, GA., grandson Patrick Thornton of Snellville, GA, ten great
grandchildren, and five great great grandchildren.
Joe served in the
82nd Airborne Division, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion,
Company F during World War II. He jumped into Normandy, behind Utah
Beach, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He and the 508th fought through Normandy,
where he received a bullet wound to the arm on July 4. He said medics
patched him up, and he returned to the battle.
Joe left Normandy for
Nottingham, England on July 15, 1944. Only 32 of the 140 508th PIR,
Company F men who jumped into Normandy on D-Day returned to Nottingham.
The others had been either killed, captured, or severely wounded.
a brief respite in Nottingham, on September 17, 1944 Joe and the 508th
boarded planes bound for Nijmegen, Holland where they jumped as part
of Operation Market Garden. They fought there, capturing and defending
roads and bridges, until November 13, 1944. They then returned to Sissonne,
France for rest and recuperation.
On December 17, 1944 Joe and the 508th boarded
trucks to help stop the German invasion in the Ardennes. Joe saw action
in the Battle of the Bulge through February 17, 1945. He and the 508th then
returned to Sissonne where he received word he was headed home to the
Joe received the following decorations for his military service:
the Purple Heart; the Bronze Star, Parachutist Badge; Combat Infantryman
Badge; the American Defense Medal; the American Campaign Medal; the
European Theater of Operations Medal with Bronze Arrowhead with four
campaign stars; WWII Victory Medal; Good Conduct Medal; and the Presidential
Joe was also awarded the French Legion d'Honneur (Legion
of Honor) Medal by the French General Counsel to Atlanta, Pascal Le
Deunff, on February 10, 2011.
After the war, Joe returned to his native
Atlanta, where he worked with Western Union a short while. He then worked
as a carpenter on his father's Barge-Thompson construction crew. In
the late 1940's Joe helped rebuild war torn Okinawa for 2 years. He
then returned to Atlanta where he became a construction superintendent
for, first, the Harold W. Ivy Construction Co. and later the Marvin
M. Black Company. In this capacity, Joe supervised the building of many
downtown Atlanta skyscrapers, including the Park Place luxury apartments.
[published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Apr. 28, 2016]
[courtesy of "Harrison"]
Joseph enlisted in the Army at Fort McPherson,
Atlanta, GA; on 23 October 1942.