• East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right

    Presidio of San Francisco


William Thompkins

William Thompkins

Private William Thompkins was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Spanish-American War.

A member of the African-American 10th Cavalry commonly known as the "Buffalo Soldiers," Private William Thompkins served in the Spanish-American War. On June 30, 1898, he and three other black soldiers participated in a daring rescue of wounded troops near Tayabacoe, Cuba. After three failed attempts by other units, Thompkins and his comrades voluntarily rowed a boat ashore under heavy enemy fire, retrieved the American and Cuban soldiers, and returned to their transport ship without taking any losses. All four privates were awarded the Medal of Honor. He is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio.

Thompkins is buried in West Side, Grave 1036A.


Did You Know?

Refugee Camp at the Presidio

In the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, nearly 250,000 people were left homeless. The Army responded quickly, establishing refugee camps on the Presidio and organizing relief efforts.