Family mounts sad vigil - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Family mounts sad vigil

July 28, 2005

Valdosta-- Sergeant John Thomas of Valdosta was one of four national guardsmen killed Sunday while on patrol in Iraq, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

Family and friends say Thomas was a fearless soldier and died doing what he loved.

At just 29, Tammy Thomas never thought she'd be planning a funeral. "I'm a widow before I'm a mother, and that's hard," said Thomas.

When her husband left for Iraq a few months ago, she always feared this would happen. "I begged him not to go," said Thomas.

But Sergeant John Thomas would never back down from a mission, and headed overseas to help win the War on Terror. "I was always uneasy, I prayed for him every day and every night," said Thomas.

The couple talked on the phone often, "Almost every day, if not every day, for two hours at a time," said Thomas.

Until two weeks ago when Sergeant Thomas told his wife he wouldn't be able to call for about a month. "He was going on a mission," said Thomas.

Sunday night, Tammy got the news every military spouse prays they'll never hear. "Two officers came to my in-laws' house and told me," said Thomas. Her husband's Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.

This soldier's life ended after just 33 years. "I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart, and the knife hasn't been taken out yet," said Thomas.

For now, Tammy says she's getting through it by staying busy. She spent the morning planning the funeral and going through proper military procedures.

Moving on will be hard, but Tammy says she'll live her life the way her husband would want. "To live happy and live free, because he paid for not just my freedom but all of our freedom, and that's a high price," said Thomas.

A high price, but one this soldier wasn't afraid to pay. Sergeant Thomas' funeral hasn't been scheduled yet. His wife is waiting for his body to be returned to the United States.

Three other troops were killed by the bomb, including Gus Brunson, a Worth County native.

Feedback: news@walb.com

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