He was widely regarded as one of the most respected marines during the first world war.
Now, nearly 75 years after his death, Huntsville’s own Col. John W. Thomason Jr. has officially been christened as a part of Texas history with the unveiling of a new historical marker at his gravesite in Oakwood Cemetery.
“Col. Thomason was one of the most celebrated and familiar Marines of his day,” Captain Kent Knudson, DC, USD (Ret.) said. “He was an accomplished soldier, but also a renowned literary.”
Born in 1893, Thomason, a Huntsville High School graduate, served in the Marine Corps during both of World War I and World War II. Thomason remained a career Marine after World War I, where his actions at the Battle of Soissons in France earned him the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest decoration for valor. His later postings around the world with his family would fuel his natural talents and allow him a simultaneous career as an acclaimed writer and artist.
Thomason completed eleven illustrated books and published more than sixty articles for the premier publications of the era. His most famous work, “Fix Bayonets!” was published to instant acclaim in 1926.
“My military service would not compare to Col. Thomason,” Huntsville Mayor Andy Brauninger said. “There is a certain comradery amongst soldiers. I’m so thankful that this city will make sure that veterans and people like Col Thomason are remembered forever.”
Thomason died in San Diego, California on March 12, 1944 leaving behind a wife and sun. The U.S. Naval Destroyer USS John W. Thomason, named in his honor, was launched in 1944 and decommissioned 1970.
“The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the THC. “Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history.”
Texas has the largest marker program in the United States with approximately 15,000 markers scattered around the Lonestar State.