“Country roads, take me home…” That would have been the theme song of PFC Thomas Wilson’s life. Growing up in Maurertown, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, life was simple and carefree. It was the kind of town where kids played outside and parents seldom locked their doors. Thomas was a very active young man who enjoyed Boy Scouts, athletics and the outdoors. One of his dreams was to some day hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Thomas adored his ‘country’ lifestyle and decided to make a career out of it. After graduating from Central High School where he played basketball and ran track, Thomas enrolled at West Virginia University to study his passions – wildlife and fishery management. Another passion was serving his country and protecting those he loved. He was recruited by the U. S. Army while in college and completed his training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in August of 2006.
Soon after, he deployed to Vicenza, Italy, with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. From there, his unit set off for Paktika, Afghanistan. Just 10 days before Thomas was scheduled to return home, insurgents struck. Thomas was on a motorized patrol on August 27, 2007, when the enemy ambushed the unit. Heavy machine gun fire and grenades burst all around them. Thomas was reloading a can of .50 caliber ammunition when he was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His previous actions of firing three other cans of ammunition saved the lives of some of his fellow soldiers.
Thomas’ life was tragically cut short, but it was also a testament to the meaning of an American soldier. His younger brother now serves in the Army continuing Thomas’ journey.
At the Memorial, we honor Thomas and those men and women who fought and died to protect the freedoms we hold so dear.
Thomas’ name and picture on the Wall of Honor.