Kermit Thomas, 85

Published 11:08 am Friday, August 20, 2010

Kermit Thomas, age 85, of Austin, died Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010, at the VA hospital in Minneapolis due to heart failure while preparing for surgery.

Kermit was born Oct. 20, 1925, to Vernon and Rachel Thomas in Albert Lea. At 17, Kermit left high school, where he was an honor roll student, to enlist in the Navy on Feb. 4, 1943. His patriotism and devotion to his country was strong. He trained as a gunner in San Diego, was eventually assigned to the U.S.S. Wichita, 5th Fleet (a heavy crusier class [CA45]) as a Gunnery Capt. and served a 3-year tour of duty. Kermit engaged the enemy in 9 out of 13 major campaigns, the last campaign being Okinawa. Wherever Gen. McArthur went, Kermit’s fleet had already docked. Kermit participated in rescuing POW survivors of the Bataan Death March, POW’s that constructed the Bridge over the river Kwai and 10,000 POW’s in Japan. When Kermit went ashore after the Nagasaki bomb, he was issued several rolls of film and told to expose them every 100 hundred yards or so to check for white spots. Seeing nothing but white, they continued their search for American POW’s. Kermits entire fleet, having been subjected to the radiation, have since passed from various forms of cancer.

After the war, Kermit settled in Austin and worked for Hormel Foods for the next 39 1/2 years. Kermit was extremely active in the community being a member of both the American Legion Post 91 and the V.F. W. for 65 years. Kermit always fought to help America. Kermit was active in communicating with newspapers, government officials and even President Obama in an effort to stop the flood of illegal immigrants. Because of Kermit’s activisim, he was often sought out by numerous agencies. His home is filled with pictures of him taken during several news interviews as well as pictures of Kermit with Bob Dole and Tom Brokaw, to name two. On May 2, 2009, Kermit was honored by the Honor Flight Network and was flown to Washington, D. C., to visit the WWII Memorial.

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In 1939, Kermit met Tally. They remained friends for many years before marrying in 1974 at the Little Brown Church in the Vale, Nashua, Iowa.

Kermit is survived by his loving wife, Tally; two sons, Mark of Mountain View, Calif., and John of Minnetonka; two step-sons, Randy Roskop of San Marcos, Calif., ad Charles (Linda) Roskop of Independence, Ore.; five grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; two brothers, Robert (Darlene) Thomas of Bloomington; David (Mary Anne) Thomas of Apple Valley; two brothers-in-law, James (Val) Feston of Battle Ground, Wash., and Dale (Judy) Feston of Lodi, Calif.,; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He is proceeded in death by his mother and father.

Kermit’s remains have been donated to the U of M for medical research.

Their will be a Memorial service Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010 at the American Legion Post 91, inAustin from 3 to 6 p.m.

Internment will be at Ft. Snelling Memorial Cemetery