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Tonight, we gather to pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Robert E. Thomas, Jr., who finally gave his last full measure for his country after a long and gallant convalescence in an Army Hospital.

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To fight aloud, is very brave -
But gallanter, I know
Who charge within the bosom
The Calvary of Woe-

Who win, and nations do not see -
Who fall - and none observe -
Whose dying eyes, no Country
Regards with patriot love -

- Emily Dickinson

Staff Sgt. Thomas, 24, of Fontana, CA, died Friday, September 13th in Texas, where he was being treated for horrific burns received in Afghanistan on April 21st in Maiwand, Afghanistan in an explosion described by the Army as a "non-combat-related incident".  His family never gave up on him, though, throughout his courageous battle.

Sgt. Thomas, who was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, was a squad leader in a mortar platoon with the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.  He deployed to Afghanistan in December and, sadly, was scheduled to come home to his loving family soon after his accident. He previously spent 10 months as a squad leader during a tour in Afghanistan in 2010.

According to information provided by the Army at Fort Bliss, Thomas was born on Nov. 4, 1988 in San Bernardino. He graduated from Etiwanda High School in June 2006 and enlisted in the Army shortly thereafter.

“He was always there for me,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Mitchell who deployed with Thomas to Afghanistan. “Whenever I needed help, professionally and personally, he was there. He always put the welfare of others before himself.”  Sgt. First Class Christopher Amos, Thomas’ platoon sergeant, added: “Any task I gave him, it was always, ‘Too easy, too easy, sergeant.’ He never complained, never griped. He was there for everyone.”....“We were an amazing team. We did everything together,” said Staff Sgt. Hector Pichardo, also assigned to his mortar platoon. “Staff Sgt. Sergeant Thomas is someone I’ll hold in my heart. I’ll always remember him.”

Thomas’ awards include the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.

Sgt. Thomas is survived by his wife, Kristina and daughter, Hailey.
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The Thomas Family, in happier times
Please join us in prayer for Robert Thomas, and those who loved him.
What is excellent,
as God lives, is permanent.
Hearts turn to dust,
hearts love remains.
Hearts love will meet the again.

- Emerson
About "I Got the News Today" (IGTNT)

I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor service members who have died as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its title is a reminder that almost every day a military family gets the terrible news about a loved one. Diaries about the fallen usually appear two days after their names are officially released, which allows time for the IGTNT team to find and tell their stories.  The series, which was begun by i dunno, is maintained by Sandy on Signal, Monkeybiz, Noweasels, Blue Jersey Mom, Chacounne, Twilight Falling, Joyful, SisTwo, True Blue Majority,  CalNM, Wide Awake in Kentucky, Maggie Jean, Jax Dem, Kestrel 9000, TheFatLadySings and me, SpamNunn.

Please bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service members chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.

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