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First Name: Ernest

Last Name: Thomas

Birthplace: Tampa, FL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Ivy

Date of Birth: 10 March 1924

Date of Death: 03 March 1945

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
Ernest Ivy Thomas, Jr.

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Ernest Ivy "Boots" Thomas, Jr.
Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

Ernest Ivy Thomas, Jr. was born on 10 March 1924 in Tampa, FL, and moved with his family to Monticello, FL, as a child. He was attending Tri-State University, studying Aeronautical Engineering, when in early 1942 he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Being color blind, in order to pass the medical test allowing him to enlist, he memorized the patterns provided by a man sitting next to him in the testing station.

On 19 February 1945, Thomas was a Platoon Sergeant with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division, and was part of the first wave of Marines who landed on Iwo Jima. On 21 February 1945, when the 28th Marines were attacking the base of Mount Suribachi, Thomas called for fire support and exposed himself repeatedly to enemy fire while calling for tank support to try to knock out a heavily fortified bunker at the base of Suribachi. He was awarded a Navy Cross for his "initiative [and] fearless leadership" in the attack. In the absence of his wounded platoon commander, Thomas led the combat patrol up the back side of Suribachi. When they got to the top, it was Thomas who managed to find a piece of Japanese water pipe that became the flag pole.

He was later killed in action, ten days after his Navy Cross action and eight days after the flag raising.


A monument on U.S. Highway 90, Monticello, FL, honors Thomas. It is inscribed with the following words:

In recognition of Platoon Sergeant Ernest I. Thomas USMCR who on February 23, 1945, led his platoon to raise the first flag on Iwo Jima, the first Japanese territory taken in World War II. On March 3, eight days after the first flag raising and ten days after he earned the Navy Cross for heroism in action, he was killed leading his men in combat. March 10, 1924 - March 3, 1945

Portrayal in Film

In the 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers, Thomas was played by American actor, Brian Kimmet.

Death and Burial

Platoon Sergeant Ernest Ivy Thomas, Jr. was killed in action on 3 March 1945 on Iwo Jima. He is buried at Roseland Cemetery in Monticello, FL.

Honoree ID: 3142   Created by: MHOH




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