By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 19, 2017
Sgt. Ernest "Boots" Thomas (Courtesy: State Library & Archives of Florida)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- U.S. Senator Bill Nelson filed legislation Tuesday to rename the Veterans Affairs Health Care Center on Orange Avenue in honor of Marine Corps Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas.
Thomas, who was posthumously presented the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism during action in World War II, was part of the original American flag raising atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi in 1945.
A Florida native, Thomas first joined the Marines in 1942 shortly after the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor. He was killed in action on March 3, 1945, just days after the now-famous flag raising on Iwo Jima.
“Sergeant Thomas is an American hero,” Nelson said. “I can think of no more fitting tribute to his extraordinary service to our country than the renaming of this VA clinic in his honor.”
Thomas was born in Tampa, Florida and moved with his family to Monticello at the age of eight. He graduated from Monticello High School in 1941.
The legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, now heads to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for consideration.
A copy of the bill is available here.