Cheyenne’s Last Pearl Harbor Survivor Roland Thomas To Be Honored On Saturday
78 years after he survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor, longtime Cheyenne resident and United States Navy veteran Roland Thomas will be honored by the VFW Post 11453 during a special dinner on Saturday night at First Christian Church.
Now 97, Thomas still remembers that infamous Sunday morning on the USS Perry. Thomas had kitchen duty that day. On his way to serve breakfast in the mess hall, he saw a Japanese plane on the horizon. A few minutes later, the ship was under attack.
"My battle station general quarters was down in the ammunition hole, so I was passing ammunition to the gunners," Thomas recalled in a 2017 Wyoming Military Department podcast. "I could hear all the bombs drop around us and I was shot at a couple of times while I was carrying ammunition from the apt hole to the galley deckhouse."
Luckily, the USS Perry escaped Pearl Harbor with only one casualty. Following the attack, they battled the Japanese throughout the Pacific theater before the ship was sunk in the Palau Islands. Thomas was later re-assigned to an aircraft carrier where future U.S. President George H.W. Bush qualified to become a fighter pilot. He remained with the Navy following the war and retired in 1970 after 30 years of service.
Thomas is Cheyenne's last Pearl Harbor survivor. He will be joined at the ceremony by two other local World War II heroes, Don Edgar and Robert Palmer. The VFW Post 11453 will also recognize several middle school and high school students who participated in the annual Patriot Pen and Voice of Democracy contest.
Those wishing to attend the Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony are asked to R.S.V.P. with VFW Post 11452 Commander Jim Rish at 307-274-2952.