Specialist Fourth Class

Joe Minor Thomas

Inducted 2021

Joe Minor Thomas

Specialist Fourth Class Joe Minor Thomas, born 11 January 1947 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a 1965 graduate of Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School and attended Northeastern State University.

He was drafted in 1966, trained as an Army combat medic, and deployed in 1967 to Vietnam as a Specialist 4th Class with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He was killed in action 24 September 1967, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism and the Purple Heart. He was 20 years old.

SP4 Thomas’ award narrative reads in part, “He saw three comrades wounded by the intense barrage and sprinted three hundred meters across an open rice paddy under a hail of fire to aid them. With bullets striking all around him, he remained in the open to treat the casualties and move them to safety. He was mortally wounded while gallantly defending his comrades in the face of grave danger.”

His family and friends remember him fondly as a mature young man of manners and caring and fun. They remarked on the changes they saw during his brief time in the Army, and recalled that his training as a medic refocused him to pursue a career in medicine after his service.

In tribute to his gallantry and sacrifice, the Fort Sill SP4 Joe Minor Thomas Troop Medical Clinic was dedicated 6 April 2012.

24 September 2020 was proclaimed Joe M. Thomas Day in Tulsa to honor his service and sacrifice. His family was presented with a certificate, and the street of his boyhood home was named for him. In November 2021 Joe M. Thomas was inducted into the Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa) Hall of Fame.

Thomas rests in Tulsa’s Crown Hill Cemetery.