Ralph Thomas was born February 23, 1926 in Dunksburg Missouri, the son of James Richard Thomas and Maude Scharnhorst Thomas. The family lived in Sweet Springs throughout his childhood, where both parents worked at the International Shoe Company factory in Sweet Springs, and Ralph lived during many workweeks at the farm home of his grandparents, Charles and Ida "Dena" Scharnhorst.
On Feb 27, 1943 Ralph Thomas was married in Sweet Springs to Nila Steinkuehler of Concordia, Missouri.
Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Army Nov. 26, 1945 to serve in WWII as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne division. He fought in France and Germany, and was part of Berlin airdrop in advance of the decisive Battle of Berlin. At Berlin he was a POW for the final days of the war. Ralph was then engaged in the occupation clean-up of Berlin, served in that time frame as an honor guard for General Eisenhower, and was later transferred on to participate in the occupation of Japan. He was discharged from active duty in 1949, returned to Sweet Springs to his wife and daughter, and in 1951 was called back into active duty in the Korean Conflict, serving until 1952 as a supply sergeant at Pusan, Korea.
Following his discharge in 1952 Ralph moved his family to Trenton, Missouri where he worked until 1956 on a sales and delivery route for the Curtis Candy Company. He then worked as a clerk for the Rock Island Railroad until the early 1990's when the railroad ceased operation. He then sold used cars in Trenton until about 1996. Ralph Thomas died April 3, 1997 following an extended treatment and surgery for lung cancer.
Pfc Thomas was transferred to Company D, 508th PIR on 26
October 1945. He re-enlisted on 27 November 1945.
Although discharged on 17 April 1946, he was recalled for
duty during the Korean Conflict and was discharged for a second time on 30
His civilian work included a period with the Chicago and
North Western Railroad as their employment records, listed him as a "Yard
Clerk" in Trenton, Missouri on 14 January 1980.
Ralph's remains were cremated and placed in the Grundy
Center Cemetery, Trenton (Grundy), MO.