By Debbie Gregory.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas has received the Silver Star for his actions during a deadly 10-hour firefight with Islamic State militants that helped his fellow sailors navigate a minefield.
On September 20, 2017, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran recognized Thomas for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Today we recognize the heroic actions of individuals and the legacy of their teammates. This recognition is well deserved, and it’s an acknowledgment of bravery, training, and dedication to team and country,” said Moran.
On Oct. 20, 2016, while conducting combined clearance operations, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas exited his vehicle as bullets, rockets and mortar rounds targeted his unit. Thomas swept the area for explosives just after a roadside bomb struck another vehicle, mortally wounding a sailor. His actions allowed medics to get through the minefield and reach injured sailors to provide critical care.
“No one who was present on the 20th of October knew better than Jeff the dangers he was facing,” said Navy Cmdr. Geoff Townsend, the commander of Thomas’ unit. “After the EOD supervisor, a friend and mentor, was mortally wounded, Jeff knowingly exposed himself to hazards in order to protect the lives of his teammates and brothers in arms, and secure a [medical evacuation] for his wounded teammate. His actions that day saved the lives of his teammates and exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to his country.”
While the Navy declined to identify the sailor who died in the attack, the Pentagon previously announced Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was killed in action by an IED in Iraq on the same date, and Finan was an EOD technician assigned to the same unit as Thomas.
Also honored were Lt. Morgan Dahl, who received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Jon Hamm who was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “C.”