Herbert Joseph Thomas Jr.
(February 8, 1918 – November 7, 1943) was a Sergeant
in the United States Marine Corps
and a Medal of Honor
recipient for his heroic actions during World War II
He was born in Columbus, Ohio
, but spent most of his childhood in South Charleston, West Virginia
, where his family moved when he was seven years old. Thomas eventually went to Virginia Tech
on an American football scholarship
. In his senior year of 1940, he led his team in pass receptions and scoring, and all Virginia
college players in scoring. He would go on to be named to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Thomas left Virginia Tech two months short of graduation to enlist in the Army Air Corps
, but transferred to the Marines because many of his friends were in that branch of service.
Sergeant Thomas was posthumous
awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during combat versus Japanese
forces on the Solomon Islands
(on November 7, 1943). Thomas attempted to disable a machine gun
post with a hand grenade
. However, the grenade bounced off the jungle flora and fell back to his position. He immediately leaped onto the grenade
to save the lives of his men, who went on to destroy the enemy machine gun.
Thomas has had a United States Navy destroyer
, the , named in his honor. The destroyer was launched on March 25, 1945 and commissioned on May 29, 1945. in South Charleston is also named in his honor.
Medal of Honor citation
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