RIP Thunder’s Tavern

To many followers of the page, including destroyermen, cruiser sailors, battleship sailors, and members of the Gator Navy– who have at one time or another passed through Pascagoula in the past 40~ years, assigned to PCUs in Spruance, Kidd, Burke, Tico, Iowa Tarawa, Wasp, San Antonio or America-class ships being built or modernized at Ingalls– the name Thunder’s rings a bell.

John “Thunder” Thornton, a Pascagoula High and Ole Miss football standout, returned home and opened his Tavern on South Market Street, just below Ingalls Avenue and only a few blocks up from the beach, in 1977.

Offering a military discount, Whisky Wednesdays, Drinking with Lincoln, a volleyball court, and, later, a pool, music venue (Johnny Joe’s), and a liquor store, it was always a popular and, sometimes, controversial hang out that hovered over the SUPSHIP “off-limits” list from time to time. Hell, when I was in high school in Goula, my friends and I would score a gallon of PBR draft at the drive-through window on Friday night, along with two styrofoam cups, for $5.

The next generation of bluejackets will not know of Thunders, as Thorton himself passed in 2019 and, this week, the recently-closed establishment was razed.

Still, you can bet old-school former red stripers everywhere will get a little misty-eyed through the halo smoke of their Camels once they hear the news, that last call at Thunder’s has come and went.

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