Thomas Hampton Rhodes was born May 1, 1915 to Lawrence T. and Blanche E. Rhodes in Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia. Thomas spent his growing up years in Oak Hill, where he was a graduate of Oak Hill High School and a member of the Christian Baptist Church. Prior to his entry into the armed forces, Thomas worked for two years at the DuPont chemical plant in Belle, Kanawha County, West Virginia.
Thomas enlisted in the United States Army in 1939 where he soon rose through the ranks to become a 1st Lieutenant. Thomas was sent overseas to the Pacific to serve with the Quartermaster Company in the Philippine Islands.
Thomas served with great dignity in the Philippines, but he was captured as a prisoner of war when the islands fell in 1942 and the troops were forced to surrender. Thomas was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Enoura Maru, Thomas lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine.
Thomas was awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Thomas Hampton Rhodes's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Thomas's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History