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James Haynes Thomas

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


James Haynes Thomas

"He had a sunny disposition and an outgoing personality."

Ernestine Olsavsky, sister

James Haynes Thomas was born August 9, 1931, in Oswald, West Virginia, the eighth of twelve children born to Charles and Roberta Williams Thomas. When James was 6 years of age, the family moved to Kaymoor, a community occupied by coal miners. James and his siblings and friends were free to roam the woods and would fish in the creek and river, a skill which enabled them to sometimes bring home a meal for the family. In the fall they gathered wild grapes, huckleberries and chinquapin nuts which were a welcome treat. James Haynes Thomas
James Haynes Thomas, age 12

Thomas family
Thomas family, 1944: Charley (holding Ernestine), Roberta (back); Joe, Ruby, and Lois (middle); Ralph, James, and Hester (front)
James attended elementary and junior high school at Fayetteville. At the age of 14, he began working to add to the family income. He worked on a coal truck for a short time after which he worked at a sawmill. He was known as a jovial person, very loyal to his friends.
James Haynes Thomas
James Haynes Thomas, age 15.

James joined the army in 1947 at the age of 16 and received his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, after which he was sent to Seattle, Washington. Assigned to the 24th Infantry Division, 63rd Field Artillery Battalion, he then went to Japan. From Japan, James left for Korea on July 5, 1950. Army records show he was killed in heavy fighting on July 14, 1950, and his body was recovered in November of 1950 in the vicinity of Lin-Ni, Korea. He was temporarily buried in a United Nations Military Cemetery near Taejon, Korea. James Haynes Thomas
James Haynes Thomas, age 17

The body of James Haynes Thomas was identified through dental records and other information and was returned to the United States in 1954. On June 14 he was buried in Huse Memorial Park in Fayetteville.

After searching for 54 years, a close friend, James Bolt of Laurens, South Carolina, located the Thomas family and offered immeasurable comfort as he talked about their brother. The two of them had been together in Japan and Korea until the start of chaotic fighting on July 14, 1950.

Source: Photographs and text submitted by the family of James H. Thomas


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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