3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon Company F, 511 PIR
03/17/23 - 07/16/19. (Age 96) - obituary
Citations: Combat Infantryman Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, World War II Victory Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Badge, Philippine Liberation Medal with service star, the American Defense Medal, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three Battle Stars and one Arrowhead
Locations: Camp Toccoa, Camp Mackall, Camp Polk, Camp Stoneman, New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, Okinawa, Japan
Thomas Rockwell Boggs, age 96, passed away July 16th surrounded by his family. He was born in Toledo on March 17, 1923 to Thomas Milton and Opal Boggs. He lost his father at a young age and he helped his mother operate a grocery store at Reynolds Corners for many years. It was in this area of town that he met his childhood sweetheart, Betty Giha. These two and others were bussed to Woodward High School, where he graduated in 1942.
A draft notice quickly followed and a young track and football player volunteered for parachute training incentivized by the Army offering $50 per month extra pay. He endured rigorous physical training at Camp Toccoa, Camp Mackall and finally at Ft. Benning, Georgia for parachute training. Active duty took him to New Guinea and the Philippine islands for brutal combat on Leyte and Luzon, and a combat jump and subsequent house-to-house fighting in the battle for Manila. After devastating losses, Thomas, other members of the Greatest Generation and MacArthur retook the Philippines and WWII was won.
A brief stop in Okinawa and the 11th Airborne Division moved onto Japan and were the first Americans to arrive to help with the signing of peace agreement to end WWII.
Thomas came home to Toledo and married Betty Giha on February 9, 1946. Three pretty good kids followed. He retired from the W.W. Grainger, Inc. in 1988. Over the years, they went to many WWII historical events and 11th Airborne reunions, and our Dad was very proud his military service. He enjoyed his lake house, his house in Wapakoneta, his children and grandchildren and playing tennis. Thomas lost Betty in June 2016, and is survived by son, Randall T. Boggs, DDS; daughters, Heather (Bob) Obert and Becky (Tom) Gundy. Much loved grandchildren, Lindsay Boggs, Erin (Jeff) Justen, Laura (Kurt) Badyna, Emily (Nate) Haupricht, Alex Gundy and Ryan Gundy. Great grandchildren, Oliver Rockwell, Ford and Millie Justen, Elise and Benning Thomas Haupricht and baby girl Badyna, expected Nov 2019. The impact of his remarkable life was never more evident than on the face of his grandchildren when they realized they were going to lose him. AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY. THOMAS ROCKWELL BOGGS
3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, F Company
Back Row L to R: Squad Leader Sgt. John J. Kiczenski, Pvt. Anselmo M. Mejia, Pvt. John Bacon, Pfc. William Sanders "Bill" Peck
Front Row L to R: Pvt. Erwin Smith, Pvt. Thomas R. Boggs
Letter from Pvt. Boggs
Subject: The Shelling on Leyte just outside Mahonag on December 18, 1944
(spelling and grammar is true to Thomas' letter)
About third week of Dec. very tired & hungry. Company F would be leading this day. We left our fox holes and men to protect our wounded and sick. We moved single file on a very narrow path through the jungle, very wet, no talking just the sounds of the very dense jungle.
After about an hour we stopped and sat down alert to everything around us. Visibility was about 10 yards or less. We did not know if contact had been made with the Japs or not, we waited no talking. We had been on many days like this. As we waited we were hit by artillery there was no warning.
When I sat up I was dazed and a few feet from my rifle. I crawled over to it and saw John Bacon had been hit and torn off the back of his foot. He did not make a sound as I tried to get what was left of boot off. There was lots of blood with very little to take care of him with sulfa powder. Stopped most of the bleeding, then we learned that two men yards ahead on the trail had lost a leg and other wounded ahead of him. There was no sound just low voices. We were expecting an attack that did not come.
Word came to start back with our wounded. I took John piggyback after going about 10 yards or less we saw Capt Jenning D Comp and he was dead (Charles E. Jenkins was actually in HQ2 at the time). We continued back very slow going with so many badly wounded. Will always remember my pants were blood soaked from carrying John.
We stopped to rest and try to stop the bleeding. John looked at me and said your chin is bleeding which was only a trickle of blood and then offered me a very small piece of chocolate that he had been saving since we had not eaten for a few days. His concern was for me. I said "John you need it more than me", his reply was "But you are carrying me."
If you would like to learn more about Thomas' exploits within and the history of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II, please consider purchasing a copy of the book WHEN ANGEL'S FALL: FROM TOCCOA TO TOKYO, THE 511TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY REGIMENT IN WORLD WAR II, available in the regimental online store, on Amazon or wherever military history books are sold.