b. 08/02/1918 Columbus, Ohio. d. 07/11/1943 Bougainville, Solomon Islands.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 07/11/1943 Bougainville, Solomon Islands.
World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. An Ohio native, he was raised in South Charleston, West Virginia, graduating from high school there in 1936. After attended Greenbrier Military School for a year, he went to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute on a football scholarship. Upon America's entry into WWII he joined the Army Air Corps and then transferred to the US Marines. He served as a Sergeant in the 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Thomas was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for action on November 7, 1943 at Koromokina River, Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands. He was killed in action. In addition to the CMOH Thomas was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. A Gearing Class Navy Destroyer, DD-833, was named the USS Herbert J. Thomas. Initially buried in the US Military Cemetery on Bougainville, his remains were reinterred in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in South Charleston on June 19, 1948.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the battle at the Koromokina River, Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, on November 7, 1943. Although several of his men were struck by enemy bullets as he led his squad through dense jungle undergrowth in the face of severe hostile machine gun fire, Sergeant Thomas and his group fearlessly pressed forward into the center of the Japanese position and destroyed the crews of two machine guns by accurate rifle fire and grenades. Discovering a third gun more difficult to approach, he carefully placed his men closely around him in strategic positions from which they were to charge after he had thrown a grenade into the emplacement. When the grenade struck vines and fell back into the midst of the group, Sergeant Thomas deliberately flung himself upon it to smother the explosion, valiantly sacrificing his life for his comrades. Inspired by his selfless action, his men unhesitatingly charged the enemy machine gun and, with fierce determination, killed the crew and several other nearby defenders. The splendid initiative and extremely heroic conduct of Sergeant Thomas in carrying out his prompt decision with full knowledge of his fate reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: SUNSET MEMORIAL PARK, SOUTH CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA.
Section H, Lot 342
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