3RD CAVALRY GROUP (MECHANIZED)
The 3rd Cavalry Group was the reconnaissance arm of the XX Corps, U.S. 3rd Army. Composed of the 43rd Cavalry Squadron and the 3rd Cavalry Squadron, they had fought their way across France and into the German frontier by the Fall of 1944. Equipped with machine-gun mounted jeeps, mortars, M-8 "Greyhound" armored cars and light tanks, these mechanized cavalry squadrons screened the XX Corp's movements, performed observation work, and when the occasion demanded carried out attacks on enemy positions.
PFC. JAMES F. THOMAS, JR.
TROOP B, 3RD CAVALRY RECONNAISSANCE SQUADRON (MECHANIZED), 3RD CAVALRY GROUP
Twenty-seven year old James F. Thomas, Jr. of St. Charles, Virginia was inducted into the Army in June of 1944 and took his basic training at Fort Hood, Texas. He joined Troop B, 3rd Cavalry Squadron in December, 1944 as a replacement. A log book, now in possession of his family, states the B Troop commander was Capt. Baldwin, his platoon leader Lt. Dye, and his platoon sergeant Wesley Taylor. His discharge indicates he was military specialties were mortar gunner and combat vehicle gunner. During the fighting at Riol, Germany on or about March 11, 1945 Pfc. James Thomas was seriously wounded in the shoulder. According to his daughter, Lydia Smith of Dandridge, Tennessee, James told his sister after the war that:
"he was left behind for dead by his platoon, but he came to later that night and wondered around all night and found his platoon the next morning. He didn't remember doing that and they told him it was a miracle they found him. He eventually passed through five Army hospitals before he was discharged at Camp Pickett, Virginia."
James F. Thomas, Jr. passed away in 1961 reportedly due to a blood clot in his heart while working at the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was making precision parts for nuclear weapons for the U.S. Government at the height of the Cold War. His family members believe the shrapnel which he still carried in his body from his wounding at Riol, Germany may have contributed too if not actually caused his death sixteen years later.
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