Thomas, Willis Manning, CDR

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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1942-1943, 112X, USS Pompano (SS-181)
Service Years
1927 - 1943

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This Military Service Page was created/owned by Michael D. Withers (Mike), OSCS to remember Thomas, Willis Manning, CDR.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Richmond, CA
Last Address
Fresno, CS

Casualty Date
Sep 17, 1943
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Other Explosive Device
Pacific Ocean
World War II
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
MH-26 (memorial marker)

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Last Known Activity

The USS Pompano was due to leave her patrol area at sunset on 27 September 1943 and return to Pearl Harbor through Midway. She was expected to arrive at Midway for fuel and provisions on 5 October 1943 but she never arrived. The official version is that she was lost while patrolling off the coasts of Hokkaido and Honshu. Probably lost to Japanese mines. The date usually given (27 September) is an approximate one.

However Japanese records show that a submarine was sunk on 17 September by air attack off the AomoriPrefecture near Shiriya Zaki. Though we cannot be certain the boat was actually sunk here, it must be taken into consideration since it can only have been directed against Pompano as this is within her patrol area and as there were no other submarines operating in that area. They say a seaplane based on Ominato attacked a surfaced sub which returned fire (this is critical since it leaves little doubt about what the plane attacked) then dived. The Japanese minelayer Ashizaki dropped depth charges the following day on a spot where oil was surfacing, bringing up more oil.

USS Pompano (SS 181) was lost with 77 officers and men.

Duty USS Pompano (SS-181) 1 Jul 1939 - 1 Jul 1940
Executive Officer USS Pompano (SS-181) 1 Nov 1940
Staff Submarine Squadron Eight Mar 1942
Captain USS Pompano (SS-181) 29 Jun 1942 - Sep 1943


Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Division: U.S.S. Pompano (SS-181)
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Willis Manning Thomas (NSN: 0-70166), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. POMPANO (SS-181), during the FIRST War Patrol of that vessel in enemy controlled waters near the Japanese home islands during the period 19 July 1942 to 12 September 1942. Despite strong enemy countermeasures and unfavorable sea conditions, Lieutenant Commander Thomas took advantage of every opportunity to strike the enemy and in a series of skillfully conducted attacks succeeded in sinking a destroyer, a 900-ton patrol vessel, and 6,900 tons of merchant shipping without casualty to personnel of his own command. Lieutenant Commander Thomas' conduct throughout was an inspiration to his officers and men, and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval Service.

Silver Star
General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 313 (April 1943)
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander Willis Manning Thomas (NSN: 070166), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. POMPANO (SS-181) during the SIXTH War patrol of that submarine in heavily patrolled enemy Japanese waters from 6 June to 28 July 1943. By his tenacity, skill, and excellent judgment, Lieutenant Commander Thomas succeeded in closing a strong enemy task force and inflicting severe damage on a SHOKAKU-Class aircraft carrier. His superb seamanship and great courage under fire were an inspiration to his officers and crew and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
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World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Attack on Pearl Harbor
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The attack on Pearl Harbor, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, the Hawaii Operation or Operation AI by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters,  and Operation Z during planning, was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II.

Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan planned in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the next seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. All but Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. One Japanese sailor, Kazuo Sakamaki, was captured.

The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan. Domestic support for non-interventionism, which had been fading since the Fall of France in 1940,[19] disappeared. Clandestine support of the United Kingdom (e.g., the Neutrality Patrol) was replaced by active alliance. Subsequent operations by the U.S. prompted Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy to declare war on the U.S. on December 11, which was reciprocated by the U.S. the same day.

From the 1950s, several writers alleged that parties high in the U.S. and British governments knew of the attack in advance and may have let it happen (or even encouraged it) with the aim of bringing the U.S. into war. However, this advance-knowledge conspiracy theory is rejected by mainstream historians.

There were numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action by Japan. However, the lack of any formal warning, particularly while negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was judged by the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime.
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  2013 Also There at This Battle:
  • Atkins, Edward F., S2c, (1936-1946)
  • Atkins, Maurice Lee, S2c, (1936-1946)
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