I’ve been in touch with my 3rd cousin Russell Thomas, who is a descendant of Charles Franklin Thomas (1854-1927) about whom I’ve written many times. He shared an interesting story with me about an encounter in 1967 at the Schofield Army Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, with a mystery Thomas family member. I’ll let Russ tell you what happened:
It was a beautiful spring morning in 1967. It was also a Saturday, and we had already had our weekly inspection per Army protocol, so I and the other Lieutenants in my company where having coffee and doughnuts at a nearby PX in the Schofield Barracks complex.
The PX had an all glass front so you could see who was coming and going. One of my companions said, “Is he lost?” Schofield is an Army base that Japan made famous as they strafed it coming out of nowhere thru Koli Koli Pass on there way to Pearl Harbor, so you seldom see a sailor and it was a justifiable question.
I took a look at him and was dumbfounded because the sailor looked like a younger version of my uncle Gibby whom I had visited the year before in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was about 21 years old [born about 1945]. I wondered was my Uncle was doing here and why did he look so young?
I sprang up and surprised the sailor as he entered the door. His eyes got wide and his jaw dropped down. He thought I was a younger version of an uncle from home! We both knew we were looking at a Thomas but we checked out each others name badges to confirm it. He was a Thomas.
I offered to buy him a cup of coffee, but he said his unit commander had asked him to get coffee and doughnuts and he had to get right back. Apparently they worked out of a secret bunker on secret stuff that he was not allowed to discuss. I gave him my phone number but he told me right up front that he didn’t have access to a phone and rarely got out of the bunker as it was all hush hush. We vowed to try to get together somehow but it didn’t happen. The whole encounter didn’t last ten minutes.
I was curious enough to write Gramma [Belva Bisnette Thomas] about the encounter. She wrote back and said (now this is where my memory fails me) that Catcher had a relative that took off for parts unknown, but they think he went to Oklahoma or some other midwest state.
So there you have it. A Navy sailor with the last name Thomas born about 1945 stationed at the Schofield Army base in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1967. I’m posting this just because it’s an interesting story, and also because just maybe someone will find this story online and know who the mystery sailor was.
I’ve dropped the Schofield base a line asking how I might look for someone named Thomas stationed there in 1967. I will report back if I find anything.