Thomas R. Reed USS Navy Hero…
By Jake Boggs
Editor’s Note: The recent stories on Brigadier General James Kemp Mclaughlin has prompted much discussion regarding the vast contributions of Braxton County natives to the defense of our nation and the freedoms we so often take for granted. Those talks have prompted one local writer to share some knowledge, periodically with our readers about military heroes who have local ties. This first article by Jake Boggs details the important part Thomas W. Reed played in bringing World War II to and end. As always, we invite reader comments.
It has been called our greatest generation. To some of us, its grandpa, dad, or uncle. To others it’s the old man in front of us in the grocery store. But sadly, for some it is a person that was never around when they were growing up.
Personally, I find warmth and sadness at the sorrows and sacrifices that the greatest generation had to endure. One particular story is that of Thomas William Reed. Born August 6, 1924 in Copen, WV. He would go on to be at the defense of the entire world in helping bring an end to the imperial Japanese grasp of the Pacific. Serving on board the USS Indianapolis as an electrician’s mate, third class (EM3).
Reed’s crew and ship secretly delivered uranium to the Tinian Island that would be used in the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Several days later his ship was torpedoed and sank in 12 minutes, in 18,000 feet of water. Out of 1195 crew members on board, it is believed that approximately 300 went down in the ship. The remaining 900 or so were left to the merciless and unforgiving ocean
Over a period of four days, these service members watched as dehydration, shark attacks, and saltwater poisoning claimed even more lives. When they were finally discovered, the surviving number had fallen to 316. Sadly, Thomas William Reed was on the longer list and was not a survivor.
We as a nation owe more than a debt of gratitude to these individuals and service members (past and present). On December 20, 2018 the entire crew of the Indianapolis was awarded a congressional gold medal. Thomas William Reed was a hero that will forever be remembered, and I am proud to be from Braxton County, the county that this man called home.