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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.

After 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 USA.

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 Unit Emblem.

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.


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