Born on September 21, 1930, Thomas King came from a long line of Virginia patriots. His great-grandfather, cousins, uncles, and father all served in the military. It was not a surprise to anyone when he enlisted in the Army in July 1948 at the age of 17.
Before his days in the Army, Thomas worked in the Richmond area at the cookie company, Southern Biscuit, on Marshall Street and as an usher at a theater on Broad Street. His family had moved to Richmond after the
death of his father, then to Hopewell in January of 1946.
After his enlistment, Thomas was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training. While there, he learned to type and to perform other clerical duties. He separated from active duty and was placed in the Reserves a month after the Korean War broke out. Ultimately, the war escalated and Thomas was thrust back into active duty on September 20, 1950. Even though he was trained in office work, he was assigned to the 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division near the front lines in a light weapons infantry combat position. Just three days after engaging in combat, Thomas was killed on March 16, 1951 by enemy fire. His family did not receive word of his death until March 28th. Because of intense fight
ing, Thomas’ body was not returned until October 1951.
For his service to his country, Thomas was awarded the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the UN Korean Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Thomas’ story of sacrifice, and those of the close to 12,000 Virginians in the Shrine of Memory, will forever be honored at the Virginia War Memorial.
A special ‘thank you’ to Wade Lanning at the Prince George Heritage Center for providing the information and photograph.