Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Army Staff Sgt. Robert E. Thomas Jr. of Fontana, California, died September 13 at Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
The 24-year-old Thomas suffered the injuries that ultimately caused his death during a "non-combat related incident" on April 21, 2013, in Maiwand, Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense has released no further details on exactly what that incident was.
Thomas was a squad leader to a mortar platoon with the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Mitchell deployed with Thomas to Afghanistan in December. He told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:
“He was always there for me. Whenever I needed help, professionally and personally, he was there. He always put the welfare of others before himself.”
LTC Kevin D. Admiral, Spartan Battalion Commander, wrote on the battalion's Facebook page:
"SSG Thomas was a one of kind leader, mentor and friend. No matter what he was asked to do, he executed to the highest standard and always had a smile on his face. SSG Thomas was dedicated to the men entrusted to his care and never passed up an opportunity to shape the lives of his Soldiers. He will be sorely missed and hard to replace."
Thomas leaves behind his wife, Kristina and a daughter, Hailey.