Thomas claimed an Everett Massachusetts residence on 19 October 1870 when he signed up at Boston for a 3 year stint as a seaman in the US Navy. His enlistment papers indicate that he had no special skills nor previous military service. Historic records indicate that he joined up on the 18th, but it was clearly the 19th. The enlistment document also notes that he came from a place called NEW FOUNDLAND. Curious. It also claimed he was 24 years old, but some math indicates he may have been born in 1846 rather than the oft quoted 1847. Thomas also decided that his name ought no longer be KEARSEY, as spelt at birth, and so he changed it to Kersey, a spelling that followed him for the rest of his life.
First assigned to the USS Ohio and then to the USS California, his first year of service obviously agreed very much with the US Navy. They had him promoted to Cox'n at one point and another to the Captain of the Top. All within his first year of service. Thomas would then serve on the USS Independence, the USS Vermont, the USS Wabash a 2nd time, the USS Plymouth and finally the USS Wabash for a third stint before leaving the service.
In 1876 Thomas was listed on what was called a Descriptive List. (documents periodically created that listed rolls, and other pertinent info) The entry says he was 29 years old, thus making his birth in 1846 versus 47, and also noted, again rather curiously that he was from St John's NOVA SCOTIA, instead of Newfoundland.
On 26 July 1976 while at the New York Naval Yard the waters must have been quit rocky for not one but three Medals of Honor would be awarded for sailors diving into the water to attempt the rescue of fellow shipmates who had fallen from the vessel. Two medals went to 2 fellows who's citations read that they ATTEMPTED to rescue another, suggesting that the attempt might not have been a success. But Thomas also dived in to rescue a shipmate and his attempt was successful. Two weeks later two others would also be awarded a MOH from this ship for saving a civilian who was struggling in the waters of Halifax, Nova Scotia but that will be covered in a later blog.
The last ship Thomas would serve on was the Wabash.. for a third stint. This would come to an end in July of 1878 when he got so sick that he had to take a discharge based on a disability. It was caused by injuries to the kidney that he had to deal with since the MOH incident a few years earlier. He would be in and out of hospital with the ailment and eventually died at the Hospital... a naval hospital at Chelsea Mass. on 17 April 1888, not the 16th as widely documented.
Thomas was buried at the Hospital but later his remains were removed from an old location on site to a new one. Or so the story goes. Some 42 headstones and supposed remains were also removed. But later it was found that some of the 42 were only headstones, and not remains. Later search for remains proved fruitless. Other graves were found on site but with no indications who they were. Poor records are compounded by two stories. One having Thomas being removed to Newport Rhode Island and another having his remains going to Woodlawn Cemetery at Everett Mass, but the later had no records substantiating this.
To this day the mysterious has yet to be solved.
Canadian war hero Thomas Joseph Kearsey died 125 years ago tomorrow.
Moving on to another topic... Back on 21 March I brought you a number of items including comments about a new medal the US government was creating for drone operators who were a zillion miles away from the enemy but could soon earn bravery medals for their jobs in front of a computer.
You can guess my views on the subject. Many in the military and out were infuriated with the creation of a medal for this purpose and the placing of it in an order of ranking above the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.... medals for true bravery in the face of the enemy, And without mouse in hand.
The latest news is that the order had been given to halt the production of the medal. Now this does not kill it.. just halt it. Make no mistake. It may very well still live. The powers to be are now contemplating some sort of a device... like maybe a star or a "V" for valor or whatever...that can be affixed to some other medal the service member had already earned. The matter of where the "Device" will rank with other medals is also being examined.
One can only hope that the front line airmen and women, and soldiers and sailors and marines and coast guard members and others who daily face their enemy will be consulted on the issue BEFORE another blundered is announced. Talk to these front line troops... not just their Generals and Admirals.
Kudos to those who had the strength to step up to the plate and ensured they were being heard about the ill advised creation in the first place, and to others who actually listened.
And a final comment... Today is my 100th blog. I hope you have enjoyed these as much as I have enjoyed doing them, though I will confess it is taking a lot more work that I thought back in December of 1812..or whenever I started them...hehehe
I want to thank you for staying with me all this time and for the comments I have been receiving about this work to keep the memories of these heroes both in the US and Canada alive. Comments have come in from across Canada, London England and several US States. If you have not done so, please take a few minutes to drop me a line from wherever you are to say hello and give some input in what you are finding in these blogs.
It would also be helpful if you could pass along the blog URL to others that you may think would enjoy it, and also to the press who may well find it worthy of coverage.
I hope you will agree with my statement that much of this is new to you and not readily available elsewhere.
cheers and I'll be back tomorrow.