Balfour E. Thomas
Corporal, 26th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division
World War II
November 24, 1920
March 30, 1943
The above could never fully describe a person’s life. It only mentions a name, organization, date of birth, and date of death.
Uncle Buddy was the son of farmers born and raised in southwest Virginia. Towns like Glade Spring, Chilhowie, Saltville, and Abingdon dot this area close to the Tennessee border. It was hard times in this region during the Great Depression, so a young kid barely 17 years old, ventured out with his parents permission and more importantly their signature allowing him entry into the United States Army. At some point, either during basic training or advanced training, Buddy Thomas was stationed at then Camp Meade, Maryland.
His mother was very protective of him and was reluctant to let him join the Army in the first place. So, they followed him to Maryland with family in tow settling down in Adamstown, Maryland, a rural farming community in Frederick County, Maryland, about two hours away in the late 1930’s. Corporal Buddy Thomas or Uncle Buddy was my Moms older brother; almost 13 years older.
My mom and her younger brother don’t remember much about Uncle Buddy, other than he had a big smile and a bigger laugh. He would bring them home presents while on leave and always had that big smile accompanied by yet more laughter.
Then, on a spring day in 1943, a telegram came, and like the many other telegrams delivered during the war, it read, “We regret to inform you that your son, Corporal Balfour E. Thomas was killed in action near Tunisia, North Africa,” or words to that affect.
Buried at marker #6429 near the McClellan Gate in Arlington National Cemetery, with many years having come and gone, it will always be remembered that Uncle Buddy had a big smile and a bigger laugh.
THOMAS, BALFOUR E
CPL AGF USA WWII
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/28/1920
BURIED AT: SECTION 12 SITE 6429
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard