Richard Thomas:
stories from his son, Rick Thomas

From: Rick Thomas, son of Richard H. Thomas: Dad got his mother to say he was 16 so he could enlist in the Navy.  When it turned out that he was color-clind, he was transferred to the 93rd and joined them on Banika where he quietly celebrated his 16th birthday. Chaplain Ball was his pastor from Rock Hill, SC. He attended Catholic services to avoid being recognized by the Chaplain who might have reported him for being underage.

"I do not know if Dad taught the Filipinos to fish with dynamite but he did some of that with them. He said the charge would detonate, then the Filipinos would dive in the water and collect the fish. Occasionally one fellow would rise to the surface and talk excitedly, then others would dive in. Soon they would come up with an octopus that they had pried from the rocks. The natives would butcher it on the boat and eat it raw. Dad tried it, but just could not make himself swallow.

"Harold Collins told me of climbing a tree that overhung the water at Green Island. He lowered a bag of corn meal into the water with a stick of dynamite and watched the fish congregate around it. He thought that one stick of dynamite might not be enough so he put two more on the rope. Later he thought a sufficient number of fish were feeding on the corn meal so he set off the charge. It blew him out of the tree and disintegrated all the fish. I guess 19 year olds were as dumb in 1944 as they are in 2002."