James Thayer: Liberator
Categories: American Grit Stories
Such was the scope and scale of World War 2 that the word hero could get tossed around and not lose any of the weight and prestige associated with it. There were heroes aplenty during that war, men who did the unthinkable, the impossible, the unimaginable. Men like Brigadier General James Thayer. James passed away earlier this week with little fanfare for the man who had done so much for his country.
James B. Thayer enlisted in the Army in 1942, but his prowess for fighting and leadership was soon recognized and he was sent to Officer Candidate School, upon graduation he was assigned as a platoon commander in Normandy at the head of a mine platoon. However his time there was not long, he was moved to a reconnaissance unit where he and his platoon engaged German SS forces. Thayer and his boys smoked 31 enemy soldiers. When reinforcements reached Thayer, 800 German troops surrendered. Talk about effective small unit leadership.
While patrolling in May of 1945, Thayer and his men found and subsequently liberated the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp. What was seen there could never be unseen. The horrors inflicted upon those people are, otherworldly and abhorrent.
James Thayer and his men ensured that the people at Gunskirchen Lager would not suffer another day.
Upon leaving the Army, James returned to college at the University of Oregon, graduated and founded an office supply business. It grew to be the largest independently owned office supply company in the Western United States.
The man was a patriot, a true American who answered his nation’s call. He traveled halfway around the globe to help liberate people, then returned home to bring prosperity via his business. He was everything we asked him to be. A warrior, a father, an entrepreneur, a husband. James Thayer was a hero.
Also.. in case you were wondering his son is Tommy Thayer, lead guitarist for KISS. So that’s pretty kickass too!