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Donation Honors Father’s Bravery

By Jim DinoMay 28, 2019

Paul Thomas, who was nearly killed during the Normandy invasion, lived to raise a family and operate a multi-faceted business, his daughter says. Memorial Day means a lot to Paula Thomas, as it did to her father, who enlisted in the Army in 1939. Just as her dad was appreciative of the freedom the United States affords its citizens, Paula is appreciative of the anonymous soldier who saved her father’s life. So she has donated the new clock hands on the clock atop the historic Schwab School in Weatherly. She tells the story of 1st Sgt. Paul L. Thomas, U.S. Army, who was part of the D-Day invasion force. “He landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944,” Paula Thomas said. “He was trying to walk around all of the bodies when he fell down. He couldn’t get to his rifle. A Nazi soldier took aim at him, but one of the men in dad’s unit shot the Nazi first. I get a little emotional on June 6 every year. Because if that man wasn’t there, me, my brother and sister wouldn’t be here. My dad never missed a Memorial Day.” Normandy was just a chapter in the middle of Paul Thomas’ Army story. “After Normandy, he continued across France and into Aachen, Germany,” Paula said. “He was in the Battle of the Bulge. He went across the Hurtgen Forest, and Elbe River. He ended in Czechoslovakia as part of the occupation force. He was also in Tunisia, Algeria and Sicily. He was learning refrigeration in the Philippines when he met a man named Eisenhower.” Paul Thomas was in the Army’s First Infantry Division, 16th Infantry Regiment, which he called “the Big Red One,” she remembered. “Fathers never tell their daughters stories like these,” Paula said. “I learned about them when I was putting dad’s name in for the National Registry, and my brother, Eric, told them to me.” When Paul Thomas was discharged from the Army on Oct. 12, 1945, he came home, and started a business to use his refrigeration and automotive skills he learned in the Army. He also started a natural gas distributorship, Thomas Brothers, with his brother Emerson. Paula, a member of the Schwab restoration group, volunteered to pay for the new clock hands. “We had a meeting, and they said who are we going to get to donate this,” Paula said. “Then I said I would do it, for dad, who passed in 2003.” Contact the writer: jdino@standardspeaker.com 570-501-3585

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