Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice


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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free

 

David Thomas

 

Date and Place of Birth: circa 1924 Chicago, Illinois

Died: February 22, 1945 Iwo Jima

Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position: Unknown
Rank: Private First Class
Military Unit: 2nd Marine Division US Marine Corps

Area Served: Pacific Theater of Operations

 

David R Thomas was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1924. He went to Hyde Park High School and was attending a professional baseball school in Orlando, Florida, when he entered military service with the Marine Corps.

 

Thomas served with the 2nd Marine Division in the Pacific. By February 1945, he was a private first class and on his way to Iwo Jima to help secure the island for use as a base for long-range fighters to escort bombers on their missions to Japan.

Iwo Jima, 750 miles south of Tokyo, is the middle island of the three tiny specks of the Volcano Islands. Five miles long with Mount Suribachi at the southern tip, the island is honeycombed with excoriated volcanic vents. Hundreds of natural caves communicate with deep sulphur-exuding tunnels. Steep and broken gulleys cut across the surface, ragged sea cliffs surround it. Only to the south is there level sand, but it is fine, shifting, black pumice dust making the beaches like quicksand and rendering it impossible to dig a fox-hole when in need of cover.

The island was riddled with pillboxes, gun-pits, trenches and mortar sites and a three-day naval bombardment beginning on February 16 was intended to rid the island of much of its defense. But despite its enormity the bombardment had minimal effect.

 

Private First Class Thomas was killed in action on February 22, 1945. He was 21 years old.

 

Thanks to David Straub for his help with information relating to this biography.

 

Added June 30, 2007.

 

Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.