Natick, Mass. -- Last week, the nation tuned in as the life of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was honored after his passing November 30.
Funeral and memorial services in Washington D.C and Texas gave viewers a glimpse into the life of the husband, father, and world leader. At the National Cathedral, friends, family, and colleagues shared personal stories from their time with the president December 5.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, were in attendance. Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, with former first-ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalynn Carter, also joined. Vice presidents, British royalty, Hollywood stars, and scores of senators, governors, and other national and international dignitaries made the trip to pay their respects.
With this many world leaders in one place at the same time, events were subject to strict security protocols. Scores of VIPs needed to be transferred to and from locations in and around the nation's capital. Fortunately, dozens of military men and women stepped up and worked around the clock to ensure the event was both secure and dignified. Capt. Joseph Thomson, a former aide-de-camp to Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) senior commander, Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, was one of those individuals.
"I was thrown into the fire," said Thomson, now a brigade engineer with the Army Aviation Brigade (TAAB) in Washington D.C. "We had to get it together pretty quick because this mission is not something that has taken place since 2006. With me just getting here, I didn't have a great familiarity, background, or understanding with what's going to take place. But once we got the call on Saturday morning it was time to figure it out."
"Basically, it was our responsibility to coordinate all official movements within the national capital region -- of the Bush family," said Thomson. "We also transported commanders of U.S.S George H.W. Bush, the reverend, some of the singers, and a whole bunch of dignitaries that played a huge role in the services that took place Wednesday."
From the passing of President Bush on November 30, until the final operation the evening of December 6, Thomson and the other TAAB personnel executed over 163 missions, or movements, of VIPs and dignitaries while working on a 24-hour around-the-clock schedule.
"At times, the hours got very long. The hours got late. But it didn't matter. Because of who we were supporting. And you feel such a sense of pride when you're a big part of that special day. Someone who had such an impact on America as George Bush did," said Thomson.
"I'm very proud of the team we had," said Thomson. "Over 150 personnel from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and the Marines, everyone conducted their duties with such military bearing and professionalism, it was just very impressive to see."
"It was a great honor," said Thomson. "Definitely by far the greatest impact I've had on our nation in my six year military career. It was also the most fun I've had, just knowing that you have so much influence on the events taking place, and just to be a part of that day in honoring President Bush."
Thomson served as aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, senior commander, NSSC, from November 2016 to November 2017. After departing Natick, Thomson attended the U.S. Army Engineer Captains Career Course (ECCC) at Fort Leonard Wood. Thomson is now stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia in the Washington D.C. area, arriving earlier this fall.