In The News
Kimberly Willingham (202) 225-3035
January 4, 2012 By NICK WADE/The Lufkin News
Henry Samuel Thomas served in the United States Navy during World War II, and on Wednesday, at the age of 99, at Stoneleigh Estates in Lufkin, he received medals that he earned almost 70 years ago.
Thomas’ nephew, Mitchell LeMoine, worked with U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and Stoneleigh Estates, where Thomas is a resident, to surprise Thomas with the presentation of his medals.
“This is a surprise, a very pleasant surprise,” Thomas said. “I’m so thankful for what everyone has done for me.”
While fellow residents and guests enjoyed refreshments, Gohmert presented Thomas with a flag that was flown over the capitol in Washington, D.C., in honor of Thomas. Gohmert then gave Thomas four medals: the Asiatic Pacific campaign medal, the American Campaign medal, an honorable service medal and the WWII victory medal.
“These should have been presented a long time ago,” Gohmert said. “It has taken a heck of a long time for these to get to the man who earned them.”
Gohmert said it was an honor for him to be able to present the medals to Thomas, since men like Thomas care about, and are committed to, freedom.
“There are still protestors who have signs that say war never brought peace. I’d like to know what history teacher they had,” Gohmert said. “Jesus said there would always be war and rumors of war. There will always be evil people who don’t believe we have been endowed inalienable rights by our creator. When all of the evil things happened in the 1930s and ’40s, men like Mr. Thomas stood up and fought for our freedom because they cared about freedom.”
After his service in the Navy, Thomas worked for a construction company in Lufkin before becoming a Baptist minister in 1965. He has been a member of the Free Masons for more than 70 years.
“(Thomas) spent his life serving the Lord,” LeMoine said. “There’s really not anything good I can’t say about him, he is that outstanding of a person. It’s just great that everyone is here today to honor his service, and I thought it was magnificent that Mr. Gohmert took time out of his busy slate to honor him in person. It would have been easy for Mr. Gohmert to say that he didn’t have time, but this is important because there are not a lot of World War II veterans left.”
LeMoine, who served in the Korean War, contacted Gohmert after four failed attempts to have Thomas’ honorable discharge certificate sent. It was only after hearing from the U.S. Naval Office that LeMoine was made aware of the medals.
“Mr. Gohmert and his staff really did a good job, because I had sent four requests to get my uncle’s certificate and nothing ever happened,” LeMoine said. “Then once the Naval Office called me, they asked if we wanted his medals and we said, ‘You’re absolutely right, we do.’”
After the presentation, Thomas stood and addressed the crowd.
“I’m an American, first, last and always until I die,” Thomas said. “I’ll love my country until the day I die. I’ll fuss about it and raise hell about it, and that’s nobody’s business but mine — because I’ll also fight for it and die for it if I need to. I love America.”