SGT Paul W. Thomason III

SGT Paul W. Thomason III

Army Sgt. Paul W. Thomason III

Died March 20, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

37, of Talbot, Tenn.; assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 278th Regimental Combat Team, Tennessee Army National Guard, Greeneville, Tenn.; killed March 20 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Tennessee Guardsman killed in Iraq

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — An attack on a convoy in Iraq killed a member of the National Guard’s 278th Regimental Combat Team, the first combat fatality for the unit that arrived there three months ago.

The Tennessee National Guard in a Monday statement said Spc. Paul William Thomason III of Talbot, near Jefferson City, was killed in Kirkuk on Sunday, “when his military vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.”

Thomason, 37, was a member of Troop G, 2nd Squadron, based in Greenville.

Survivors include his widow, Amanda, and four children. He was a lifelong resident of Sevier County and a 1986 graduate of Sevier County High.

“He’s my hero. He was my best friend. We did everything together,” Amanda Thomason said in a telephone interview Monday. “We celebrated five years on the 18th and he passed on the 20th.”

She said her husband “was in personnel” with the unit and was recently relocated to do a twice-weekly convoy.

“They didn’t even tell me the town,” she said. “All they told me was there was an explosion and he unfortunately didn’t make it.”

More than 3,200 soldiers in the 278th are Tennessee Army National Guard members.

Amanda Thomason said she and the children — ages 10, 7, 4 and 2 — spoke to him by telephone on Saturday, the day before he died.

“He got to talk to the kids and tell the kids how much he loved them and how much he missed them and that he would see them in seven months,” she said.

“The 10-year-old asked to go home with her grandmother last night. I’ve got the other three here,” she said.

She said she told her 4-year-old son that his daddy is “in heaven with Jesus, watching over us. He is an angel.”

Amanda Thomason said her husband left home with the 278th to begin training on Father’s Day last year.

Before his deployment to Iraq, Thomason worked in the warehouse at a Morristown envelope factory.

While the unit’s name and military role have changed many times, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment traces its history to before the American Revolution, when militias formed throughout Northeast Tennessee to protect settlers from Creek and Cherokee Indian raids.

The Iraq mission marked the first time the full regiment had been deployed since the Korean War.

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