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Eugene Marvin Thomas, Jr.
24 May 1945 | Isley Field, Saipan, Mariana Islands
Born Eugene Marvin Thomas, Jr. on 11 July 1918 at Prattville, Alabama to parents Eugene Marvin Thomas and Anna Peavey Thomas.
Enlisted as an Aviation Cadet in the Army Air Corps on 12 July 1941 at Fort McClellan, Alabama. In April 1942, received pilot wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant at San Antonio, Texas. In June 1942, deployed to the Middle Eastern Theatre of Operations from Morrison Field, Florida to British Palestine, Egypt. Flew B-24D Liberator aircraft with the 345th Bomb Squadron of the 98th Bombardment Group (M) from air fields in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Awarded the Silver Star for "bravery in action" while copiloting a B-24D nicknamed "Pluto" (serial #41-23715). In May 1943, returned to the U.S. and was assigned to Flight Instructor duty at Maxwell Field, Alabama. Volunteered for the B-29 Program and underwent aircraft transition and combat crew training at McCook Army Air Field, Nebraska and Pyote Army Air Field, Texas. In March 1945, deployed to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 881st Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands. During the night of 23-24 May 1945, he flew in the left seat as the Airplane Command Pilot aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Tail Code: Z-Square-7 (serial #42-63486). It was one of 520 aircraft launched in multi-wing group formations to bombard the urban-industrial area south of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. After bombs away, the plane’s right wing was set afire by flak from anti-aircraft artillery. While departing the target area, the plane was hit with flak in the rear fuselage that destroyed all the flight controls including the intercom. During aircrew bail-out the plane exploded in mid-air and fell into Tokyo Bay. He was declared KIA on 24 May 1945.