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First Name: Clyde

Last Name: Thomason

Birthplace: Atlanta, GA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Home of Record: Savannah, GA
Middle Name: A.

Date of Birth: 23 May 1914

Date of Death: 17 August 1942

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1934 - 1939, 1942
Clyde A. Thomason

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Clyde A. Thomason

Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant Clyde A. Thomason (23 May 1914 - 17 August 1942) 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 acts on Makin Island during World War II. Thomason was the first enlisted Marine to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Clyde A. Thomason was born in Atlanta, GA, on 23 May 1914. After his graduation from high school there, he traveled widely throughout the U.S. in a "jalopy" with companions. In December 1934, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in Savannah, GA. Although he was named for his father, at the time of his enlistment he dropped the "A" of his father's name and became known in the Marine Corps simply as Clyde Thomason. This was the name under which he enlisted in 1934 and was the name subsequently used in official Marine Corps records.

He later served in the Marine Detachment of the USS Augusta, Flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, and was honorably discharged in 1939 upon the expiration of his enlistment. The day following his discharge, he was retained in the Fleet Marine Force Reserve. When he again became a civilian, he accepted a position with the Albany, GA, branch of the Fire Companies Adjustment Bureau, Inc., and Albany became his home in February 1940.

World War II

Thomason re-enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in January 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He asked for action, and when Lt.Col. Evans Carlson was organizing his famous Raiders, Thomason volunteered.

Because he was so tall, 6 feet 4 inches, and weighed 190 pounds; he had to ask for a height waiver to get into the Raiders. He received his training in California before going to the Pacific battlefields in April for duty with the 2nd Raider Battalion.

Letters that he wrote to friends in Albany, Georgia, during the time of his service in the Pacific show that he wanted to be "where things are happening." He refused to accept assignments which would keep him away from action.

He wrote favorably of his commanding officer, Lt.Col. Carlson, and of Maj. James Roosevelt, his second in command. Lt.Col. Carlson thought so highly of Sgt. Thomason that he selected him to lead the advance element against the Japanese at Makin. It was there that Sgt. Thomason's gallantry in action earned him the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Medal of Honor

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while a member of the Second Marine Raider Battalion in action against the Japanese-held island of Makin on 17-18 August 1942. Landing the advance element of the assault echelon, Sergeant Thomason disposed his men with keen judgment and discrimination and by his exemplary leadership and great personal valor, exhorted them to like fearless efforts. On one occasion, he dauntlessly walked up to a house which concealed an enemy Japanese sniper, forced in the door and shot the man before he could resist. Later in the action, while leading an assault on enemy position, he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country. His courage and loyal devotion to duty in the face of grave peril were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

The Medal of Honor was conferred posthumously and was presented to his mother by Under-Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, at ceremonies in January 1943 at Washington, DC.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
China Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Bronze Star
World War II Victory Medal


• Following his death, the people of Georgia bought a sufficient number of War Bonds to purchase the Navy a cruiser, the USS Atlanta. The bonds were oversubscribed and there was money enough to pay the cost of two destroyer escorts, one of which, DE-203, was named the USS Thomason, launched at the Charleston, SC, Navy Yard in August 1943.

• In 1957, in ceremonies at the Marine Corps Supply Center, Albany, GA, a new gymnasium building was formally dedicated in Sgt. Thomason's name.

• In May 1984, a Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Barracks was named for Sgt. Thomason at the Marine Corps Base, Camp Smedley D. Butler, in Okinawa, Japan.

• On 17 December 2004, the Sgt. Clyde Thomason Amphibious Skills Training Facility was dedicated on Coronado Island, CA.

• On 18 February 2009, the Marine Corps League Detachment #1325 was formed in Fayette County, GA, and was named in honor of Thomason.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Clyde A. Thomason was killed in action on 17 August 1942. Sgt. Thomason was one of 30 Marines who did not return from the Makin Island Raid.

In November 1999, researchers discovered a mass grave on Makin Island that contained human remains, equipment, and dog tags belonging to Marine Raiders. Sgt. Thomason's remains were among those identified. His remains were returned to the United States and, on 17 August 2001, were re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Plot 60-8037.

Honoree ID: 1669   Created by: MHOH




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