As many were driving home Friday after work preparing for the weekend, a fallen Army Ranger was taking his final ride under escort by the Virginia State Police, the Patriot Riders and the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office.
U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas died April 27 during a raid on an ISIS-K compound as U.S. and Afghan forces targeted high-level insurgent leaders in eastern Afghanistan.
He was killed by small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense.
Thomas, a 2012 Kettering Fairmont High School graduate, was on the school’s swim team and practiced mixed martial arts in preparation for his future military career, his family tells the Dayton Daily News.
“He was a fixture in our home for more than three or four years,” said Tina Hohl, whose son was friends with Thomas. “He was always a great kid. He was always there to help everyone, and we knew him affectionately as ‘Captain America.’”
Friends and family tell the Dayton Daily News it was Thomas’ lifelong dream to become an Army Ranger.
“It was a passion of his; he was very sincere about it,” Hohl said. “His senior year in high school, we actually arranged for him to go skydiving, and (the photo) is still on his Facebook page today. I think he really wanted to go skydiving not because it was cool but because in his mind it prepared him for the Rangers. He wanted to be one step ahead … the day that he jumped, he actually had the opportunity to meet with a lot of the special forces guys and the folks who had actually served in the military, so for him that experience was more than just a jump.”
Hohl says Thomas was very humble and the police escort would have probably made him uncomfortable, but she also said, “He deserves it.”
An investigation is underway to determine whether Thomas, an anti-armor specialist, and Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., were killed by friendly fire. Both soldiers were assigned to Company D, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.
On Friday, Thomas’ sister Arran posted an update on her brother’s final journey.
“Today, my brother came home. His friends, and fellow Rangers got to carry him off of the plane. The Patriot Riders and Virginia State Police then escorted us to the funeral home,” she wrote.
The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office thanked commuters Friday for their patience on the road.
In a Facebook post officials said, “Sheriff Scott Jenkins would like to thank everyone for your patience and support as the members of the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office paid respect to fallen U.S. Army Sergeant Cameron Thomas as his body was transported through Culpeper County this afternoon. Sergeant Thomas, a U.S. Army Ranger on his third deployment to Afghanistan was killed on April 27th. May this American Hero who made the ultimate sacrifice Rest In Peace and God bless his family.”
According to an official Army press release, Thomas was born on Aug. 25, 1993 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Kettering, Ohio, in February 2012, and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, as an Infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1 also at Fort Benning. Thomas graduated from RASP 1 and was then assigned to Company D, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment where he served as an automatic rifleman, grenadier, and an anti-armor specialist.
His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program 1, the U.S. Army Ranger Course, the Basic Leader Course and the U.S. Army Sniper Course.
His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutists Badge.
Thomas has also been awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal.
The Dayton Daily News reports Funeral services for Thomas are scheduled for May 12 and 13 in Culpepper, Va
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