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The Jefferson County Commission last week adopted a resolution supporting a bill introduced by Florida's two US senators to rename the Veterans Affairs Health Care Center on Orange Avenue in Tallahassee the Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas VA Clinic.
The commission approved the resolution on Thursday evening, Jan. 4, in anticipation of the Monticello City Council approving its own resolution on Tuesday evening, Jan. 9.
The resolution expresses local officials support for the bill that Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio introduced in Congress on Dec. 19.
Thomas, who is buried in Monticello and who has a memorial on West Washington Street, was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, just shy of his 21st birthday. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his extraordinary heroism during one of the fiercest battles of World War II . He was also one of several Marines belatedly credited with raising the first American flag atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945.
Born in Tampa, FL, Thomas’ family moved to Monticello when he was eight. He graduated from Jefferson County High School in 1941 and joined the Marines a year later, at age 17. Not long thereafter, he shipped to the Pacific theater of the war.
More information on Boots Thomas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Ivy_Thomas_Jr.