In Memory of Meredith Thompson, 1961-1994
University of South Carolina 1983
Daughter of CDR(ret) Jack C. and Adelaide Thompson, Jr.
Outstanding College Basketball & Softball Athlete
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Agent 1985-1994
Killed in the Service of Her Country
My cousin, Meredith Thompson was a special person.
On August 27, 1994, while on a drug eradication reconnaissance mission in Peru, she and four other agents were tragically killed when their plane crashed in a remote location in the Andean foothills of the Upper Huallaga Valley.
"Dissy," as she was affectionately known, had undergone special training and preparation for her role as a DEA agent and, in particular, as a member of the elite Operation Snowcap team, one of the DEA's most dangerous and demanding assignments.
Her performance in basic training was an early indication of the physical talent and determination that made her the equal of any. She set new female physical training records which have yet to be broken:
* 2-mile run record of 12 minutes
* highest cumulative score for females nationwide
On assignment in Miami, fellow agents "...described her as a courageous, tenacious drug agent who was immensely popular with her fellow agents..." as she participated in hundreds of arrests, investigations, and raids in the city's most dangerous areas.
Meredith's legacy of service also included active participation in church and community youth work.
Seeking wider challenges and opportunities she volunteered for, and successfully completed, Snowcap training; which included a special weapons qualification course and a grueling special "ranger jungle training" course at Ft Benning, Georgia, home of the US Army Infantry and Ranger Schools. She rounded out her training with a six-month State Department language course.
Always "looking for another mountain to climb," Meredith had completed three overseas tours of duty before her temporal life was cut short.
Beautiful - vivacious - devoted daughter and sister - inspiring relative - mature beyond her years - are but a few of the phrases needed to round out the profile which describes the everlasting spirit of:
This link will take you to today's edition of the Port St. Lucie local paper where Mom and Dad (aka Jack and Tad, Spuds and Bag) were photographed during the dedication of the new DEA Resident office in Dissy's honour. Pretty cool stuff....enjoy! Love, Betsy
ERIC HASERT staff photographer
Tad and Jack Thompson of Fairfax, Va., unveil the plaque for the new U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Port St. Lucie on Friday. The office was dedicated to their daughter, Miami DEA agent Meredith Thompson, who was killed in an airplane crash in Peru in 1994.
DEA dedicates new locale in PSL
By Will Greenlee staff writer
May 17, 2003
PORT ST. LUCIE -- It has the nondescript appearance of a low-profile office building -- albeit a secure one.
But that's probably the look the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration wanted for its two-story, 13,000-square-foot building at 650 N.W. Peacock Blvd.
The structure was dedicated Friday to Special Agent Meredith Thompson, one of five agents killed in a plane crash in August 1994 as they looked for cocaine labs in Peru.
In 1996, an agent from the DEA's West Palm Beach office was assigned to work Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee and Highlands counties, said Anthony Cooper, DEA resident agent in charge. He said the DEA worked out of a St. Lucie County sheriff's facility at the airport in Fort Pierce before moving to the new building in November.
Thomas Raffanello, special agent in charge of the DEA's Miami field division, said he was assigned to the Miami office in 1987 and gave a light-hearted account of an encounter with Thompson, who was 33 when she died.
"I remember meeting Meredith . . . at a basketball game where she was guarding me and I had her one-on-one," he said. "She's a hell of a basketball player and she proceeded to humiliate me for about an hour."
All kidding aside, Raffanello described Thompson, a Long Beach, Calif., native who joined the DEA in 1985, as a dedicated agent with a "competitive spirit" and integrity. Her parents attended the 25-minute dedication.
Tours of the building revealed the amenities of many modern offices, including cubicles, computers and conference and filing rooms. But interview rooms -- complete with one-way mirrors -- holding cells, evidence storage areas and rooms for "secure" phone calls distinguish the building from corporate America.
"We can do pretty much anything as far as working narcotics cases from right here," Cooper said.
Raffanello said the new building should meet the agency's needs for at least two decades.
"We've got room to expand to maybe double or triple the operation, which is what we plan on doing at some point," he said.
USC grad, DEA agent killed in war on drugs remembered
(Columbia) Oct. 17, 2003 - Meredith Thompson was a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed while taking part in a South American mission to reduce cocaine production.
Her former classmate at the University of South Carolina knew Thompson was destined to help the work, "She was someone special, someone different than your average person. ... Meredith Thompson exemplified the character of a person who would die trying." Beck Cole remembers Thompson as someone destined to succeed no matter the task.
In a phone conversation from Virginia, Thompson's mother described her as a tenacious adventurer and a fierce competitor. She lettered in basketball and softball at USC.
Those who knew her, like USC professor Danny Baker, were not surprised Meredith joined the DEA, "She was out there in the jungle. She was out there for drug busts."
Meredith was 33-years-old when she died in a plane crash in Peru in 1994. Her team was taking part in Operation: Snow Cap, a mission to minimize the production of cocaine in Latin American countries.
Baker says the government of Peru presented a flag to the College of Criminal Justice in Meredith's honor, "The government was fond of Meredith. She'd established a reputation in Peru."
He says co-workers considered her a true professional and full of compassion, "She worked through the church with children. If the custodian didn't have enough money for lunch, she would give the custodian money for lunch."
Thompson's reputation lives on nine years after her death through the Meredith Thompson Scholarship, which Baker helped agents set up, and, Beck says, through the lives she touched, "She's an example of what everyone should be in character."
The 2003 Red Ribbon Week in South Carolina, which honors DEA agents who died in the line of duty, starts October 20th. See a list of activities.
by Rebecca Pepin
Sources for this tribute were excerpts from Dr William Wilbanks
book "Forgotten Heroes - Police Officers Killed in Dade County" and "The Meredith Thompson Criminal Justice Scholarship" pamphlet
produced by the University of South Carolina - and cousin inputs!
For further information, please contact:
Assistant Dean Danny E. Baker
Currell College, Room 100
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208