Sgt Clyde A. Thomason Jr.
U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), 2nd Marine Raider Battalion
Makin Raid Earned The Medal of Honor
Clyde A. Thomason was born in Atlanta, Georgia on May 23, 1914 to parents Clyde Aristide Thomason and Sarah Zipporah (née Evans) Thomason. His mother died when he was only three and afterwards his father married Amie (née Maxsom) Thomason. He graduated High School.
During December 1934, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in Savannah, Georgia. As a Marine, he went by simply "Clyde Thomason" and did not use his middle initial or Junior. Thomason was assigned to the Marine Detachment aboard USS Augusta (CA-31), flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. At the expiration of his enlistment, he was honorably discharged in 1939 but was retained in the Fleet Marine Force Reserve. As a civilian, he worked at Fire Companies Adjustment Bureau, Inc. in Albany, Georgia in February 1940.
During January 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. After the start of the Pacific War, he requested a combat assignment and volunteered for assignment to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion "Marine Raiders" (Carlson Raiders) under Commanding Officer (C. O.) Lt. Col. Evans Carlson with Executive Officer Major James Roosevelt (son of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt). This was the first U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) operation launched from submarines.
On August 8, 1942 at Pearl Harbor, the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion "Marine Raiders" (Carlson Raiders) Company A and Company B embarked aboard USS Argonaut (SM-1) and USS Nautilus (SS-168) then depart for the "Makin Raid"
arriving off Makin Island by August 16, 1942.
On August 17, 1942 at 3:30am submarines surfaced and deploy rubber rafts with outboard engines to land the Marines on Makin Island. Ashore, the "Makin Raid"
destroyed installations, disrupt the enemy and divert reinforcements
to Guadalcanal. After killing
83 Japanese and destroying installations, ships and two flying boats by Sgt Buck Stidham and Sgt Walter Carroll using their Boys Anti-Tank rifle. During the raid, Sergeant Thomason landed the advance element of the assault echelon and eliminated a sniper then led an assault on a Japanese position when he was killed. For his leadership and personal valor he later earned the Medal of Honor.
By midnight on August 18, 1942, the Marines were forced to evacuate in the face of Japanese air attacks
and reinforcements and left their dead behind. The survivors used their rubber boats to return to the submarines. A total of nineteen Marines were officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) including Thomason. Afterwards, the dead Marines were buried in a mass grave by Gilbertese islanders under the direction of the Japanese.
Thomason earned the Medal of Honor, posthumously, Purple Heart, posthumously, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, China Service Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one star and World War II Victory Medal.
Thomason was the first enlisted Marine to earned the Medal of Honor in World War II. During January 1943 his Medal of Honor was presented to his step mother, Mrs. Amie Thomason by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. attended by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Thomas Holcomb.
|Medal of Honor Citation, posthumously
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 August 17–18, 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."
Thomason was officially declared dead on August 17, 1942. He earned the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 4 (with gold inlay indicating he earned the Medal of Honor). After he was identified, a rosette was added next to their name indicating he was accounted for.
Thomason also has a memorial marker at
Sandy Springs United Methodist Cemetery in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
After the recovery of remains, the Marines were laid to rest fifty-nine years later on August 17, 2001 at Arlington National Cemetery in a group burial at section 60 site 8036. The front of the grave has the inscription † United States Marine Corps with the names of each Marines and their date of death August 17, 1942. His name is listed on the left column as "Clyde Thomason". The rear of the grave reads "2d Marine Raider Battalion Raid Butaritari Island - Makin Atoll 17-18 August 1942". Thomason also has an individual grave (with gold inlay indicating he earned the Medal of Honor) at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60 site 8037.
Residents of Georgia bought a sufficient number of War Bonds to purchase a cruiser, USS Atlanta (CL-104) with enough excess to also pay for two destroyer escorts, one named USS Thomason (DE-203) in his honor when launched August 23, 1943.
In 1957, a new gymnasium at the Marine Corps Supply Center, Albany, Georgia was named for Sgt Clyde Thomason.
During May 1984, at Marine Corps Base, Camp Smedley D. Butler on Okinawa, a Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Barracks was named for Sgt. Thomason.
On December 17, 2004, the Sgt. Clyde Thomason Amphibious Skills Training Facility was dedicated on Coronado Island.
On February 18, 2009, the Marine Corps League Detachment #1325 was named in his honor when formed in Fayette County, Georgia.
On May 5, 2016 the e MARSOC Critical Skills Operator (CSO) of the Year award presented at the Marine Corps Association and Foundation Ground Awards Dinner was renamed the Sergeant Clyde A. Thomason Marine Special Operator of the Year Special Operations Command Award.
Clyde Aristide Thomason (father)
Sarah Zipporah (née Evans) Thomason (mother)
Amie (née Maxsom) Thomason (step-mother)
Hugh Thomason (brother) also served in the Marines during World War II and the Korea War and attended his brother's funeral in 2001.
Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) - USMC Makin Raiders Missing In Action (MIA) Recovery
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Clyde Thomason
Arlington National Cemetery ANC Explorer - Clyde Thomason (grave photos)
FindAGrave - Sgt Clyde Aristide Thomason Jr. (photo, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - SGT Clyde Aristide Thomason Jr. (photo, Arlington National Cemetery photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Clyde Aristide Thomason Jr. (photo, Sandy Springs United Methodist Cemetery memorial marker photo)
Arlington National Cemetery Website - Sgt Clyde Thomason
Arlington National Cemetery Website - Marine Corps Raiders Home At Last
Arlington National Cemetery Website - Clyde Thomason (photos)
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