Congress approves renaming of Tallahassee VA clinic in honor of Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress approved legislation late Thursday to rename the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Health Care Center located at 2181 Orange Avenue in Tallahassee, Florida in honor of Marine Corps Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas.
The legislation – introduced by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL) – was approved unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The bill, which the Senate approved back in February, now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“Sergeant Thomas is an American hero,” Nelson said when he introduced the bill. “I can think of no more fitting tribute to his extraordinary service to our country than the renaming of this VA clinic in his honor.”
“Sgt. Ernest ‘Boots’ Thomas exemplified selflessness and courage throughout his service, and I am proud to honor his legacy with the renaming of the VA clinic,” Rep. Lawson said. “My hope is that future generations will see the name of our local hero and recognize the sacrifices he made in defense of our nation’s freedoms.”
Thomas, a Florida native, was posthumously presented the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism during action in World War II and was part of the original American flag raising atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi in 1945. He first joined the Marines in 1942 shortly after the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor.
He was killed in action on March 3, 1945, just days after the now-famous flag raising on Iwo Jima. Thomas, who was born in Tampa before moving with his family to Monticello at the age of eight, was a graduate of Monticello High School in 1941.
An image taken shortly after the second flag raising on Iwo Jima was used as the inspiration for the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial that now overlooks the nation’s capital in Arlington, Va.
A copy of the bill is available here.