John R. Thomas, Jr. – Colonel, United States Army

As A Roosevelt Rough Rider He Was Wounded At Las Guasimas, Cuba
Received Honors For Work In Spanish And World Ward – Greeted 156 Gold Star Mothers In London

WASHINGTON, August 10, 1933 – Colonel John R. Thomas, Jr., of the Fifth Field Artillery, at Madison Barracks, New York, who fought in both the Spanish-American and World Wars, died here, at the age of 56, last night in Walter Reed Hospital.  He was wounded at Las Guasimas, Cuba, in 1898, while a Lieutenant in the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, known as Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.  In the World War he served in France with the Eighty-second Division.

Colonel Thomas was born in Metropolis, Illinois, on November 18, 1876.  He was appointed a First Lieutenant of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry on May 14, 1898, and mustered out on September 15, 1898.  The next year he was appointed Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the Regular Army, and in 1901 was promoted to First Lieutenant. He became Captaining 1908, a Major on May 15, 1917, a Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry in the National Army on August 5 of the same year and a Colonel of Infantry, United States Army, on July 30, 1918.

He was honorably discharged as Colonel on June 30, 1920, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel the next day, transferred to the Field Artillery in 1923, and promoted to Colonel in 1924.  He was graduated from the Army School of the Line in 1916, the Army War College in 1925 and the Field Artillery School, Advanced Course, in 1926.

Colonel Thomas was a member of the initial General Staff Corps eligible list.  He served on the General Staff Corps as Military Attaché at Brussels, Belgium, and as Assistant Military Attaché in Paris between 1920 and 1924, and as Military Attaché in London from 1927 to 1931.

On May 24, 1930, Colonel Thomas and members of his staff formally greeted in London a delegation of 156 Gold Star Mothers and eight Gold Star Fathers.  Officials of the British Legion and of the British War Office also took part in the welcome.

Colonel Thomas received the Silver Star Citation for “bravery atLas Guasimas, Cuba, June 24, 1898” and the Purple Heart decoration for wounds received at the same time.  He received the Distinguished Service Medal in the World War with the following citation:

“As Chief of the Aviation Division of the Intelligence Section, he displayed unusual energy and skill in the collection and dissemination of information regarding the enemy’s air forces.  During part of the period covered by the Argonne-Meuse Offensive operations he acted as head of the Intelligence Section and performed the duties of that position with marked ability and sound judgment.”

He also received the following foreign decorations:  Belgian Ordre de Leopold (officer), Belgian Croix de Guerre (with palm), French Legion d’Honneur (officer), with the following citation: “An American officer whose merit was most especially marked in his relations with the French authorities”: Italian order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus (officer), Montenegrin Order du Prince Danilo (Commander), and Panamanian Medal of La Solidaridad (second class).

Survivors are a widow, Mrs. Florence White Thomas, and a daughter, Hughberta Thomas.

Burial will take place in Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow.  The honorary pallbearers will be Colonel Frank C. Burnett, Lieutenant Colonel James A. Ulich, Robert M. Danforth and John D. Reardon, Major Madison Pearson and Captain Charles E. Ravens.






J. R. Thomas, Jr. First United States Volunteer Infantry (Rough Riders)
Service Cards, Courtesy of the National Archives

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