John Richard Thomas

CWO John Richard Thomas, US ARMY, Ret., passed away quietly in his sleep on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1997 at a Boise care home surrounded by his daughter and friends.

John was born March 25, 1933 in Dietrich, Idaho, to William and Joy Thomas. As a teen he left Shoshone to work for the railroad in Nevada as a telegraph operator learning Morse code. After a short stay in San Francisco, aspiring to be a trombone player in a jazz big band, he entered the University of washington and eventually earned a degree in civil engineering.

He enlisted in the army in 1953 and spent 20 years “manning the barricades of freedom”. He was assigned to the army’s contingent in the National Security Agency as a morse intercept operator. Later, as a sergeant, he became an instructor in Morse code; the one the students always remembered. He was later promoted to warrant officer and sent to the defence language Institute in Monterey, California, for the first of three trips there to study foreign languages. He eventually became fluent in Russian, Vietnamese and German.

After 20 years, including postings in Vietnam, Japan and Europe, he retired to Boise, after achieving the highest Warrant rank available, CWO-4. In the past few years, he had been doing research for various institutions concerning the breakup of the Soviet Union. Through all of this, he managed to find a wife and raise a son and a daughter that he loved and spoke of often as any proud father would.

He was a historian, a linguist, a master of the English language, an intellect of immense capacity and a music lover, who never failed to touch the life of anyone he met. His absence leaves a tremendous void in the world. He was cherished by many and will be missed by all who knew him.


He is survived by his former wife, Karen; his daughter Kelly; son, Geoff; many grandchildren; two brothers, William and David; a sister, Phyllis; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Page prepared by a friend of his - Andy Rabagliati