Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Herbert

Last Name: Thomas

Birthplace: Columbus, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Joseph

Date of Birth: 08 February 1918

Date of Death: 07 November 1943

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1941-42 (USAAC), 1942-43 (USMC)
Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Herbert Joseph Thomas, Jr.

Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant Herbert Joseph Thomas Jr. (8 February 1918 - 7 November 1943) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Herbert Joseph Thomas Jr. was born on 8 February 1918 in Columbus, OH, but spent most of his childhood in South Charleston, WV, where his family moved when he was seven years old. Thomas eventually went to Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. In his senior year of 1940, he led his team in pass receptions and scoring, and led 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 U.S. Army Air Corps, but transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps because many of his friends were in that branch of service.

Sergeant Thomas was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during combat with Japanese forces on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands on 7 November 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.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the battle at the Koromokina River, Bougainville Islands, Solomon Islands, on 7 November 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 machinegun fire, Sgt. Thomas and his group fearlessly pressed forward into the center of the Japanese position and destroyed the crews of 2 machineguns 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, Sgt. 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 machinegun and, with fierce determination, killed the crew and several other nearby-defenders. The splendid initiative and extremely heroic conduct of Sgt. Thomas in carrying out his prompt decision with full knowledge of his fate reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


The United States Navy destroyer, the USS Herbert J. Thomas (DD-833), was named in his honor. The destroyer was launched on 25 March 1945 and commissioned on 29 May 1945.

Thomas Memorial Hospital  in South Charleston, WV, is also named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Herbert Joseph Thomas Jr. was killed in action on 7 November 1943. He is buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery in South Charleston, Kanawha County, WV, in Section H, Lot 342.

Honoree ID: 1667   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image