Thursday, March 02, 1944
U.S.S. THOMAS IS LAUNCHED FEB. 28
Destroyer Escort Will Bear Name of Fruitland Marine Pilot
HOUSTON, Tex. — A Marine pilot who contributed to the sinking of a Japanese cruiser and a destroyer, was honored here Feb. 28 when a destroyer escort vessel, name for the late Second Lieut. Leland Evan Thomas, USMCR, of Fruitland, Idaho was launched at Brown Shipbuilding Company.
Sponsor of the vessel was his mother, Mrs. Benjamin E. Thomas, and maid of honor was his sister, Miss Jeanette Thomas, both of Fruitland.
Lieutenant Thomas was born in Ontario, Oregon, on September 20, 1918. He was killed in action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on September 18, 1942.
Lieutenant Thomas enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve on September 10, 1941, and served until October 15, 1941, at which time he was appointed Air Cadet in the U. S. Naval Reserve, in which he served from October 16, 1941, to April 16, 1942. On April 17, 1942, he accepted appointment as Second Lieutenant in the Marine corps reserve.
For his services in the Second World war, Lieut. Thomas was awarded the Purple Heart, 1942; the Presidential Unit Citiation, 1942; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, 1942; and the Distinguished Flying Cross for services in the Solomon Islands, in 1942, with the following citation:
"For heroism and extraordinary achievement as a pilot attached to a Marine Aircraft group during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area on August 25 and Sept. 15, 1942, while vigorously attacking a hostile force composed of a light cruiser, four transports, and seven destroyers, Second Lieut. Thomas, by his expert marksmanship and superb flying skill, scored the second of two hits which sunk the light cruiser. Resolutely pursuing his task, he further contributed to the destruction of one large destroyer. On the latter date, after contacting a hostile light cruiser and two destroyers while a member of a two-plane aerial search, Second Lieut. Thomas immediately transmitted a report to his base and launched an aggressive attack, scoring several near misses on the enemy war ships. His indomitable fighting spirit was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."