Jason Thomas (Marine)

Jason Thomas (born ca. 1974) is a United States Marine who located and rescued people in the aftermath of collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City after the September 11 attacks in 2001. With fellow U.S. Marine David Karnes, he helped find a pair of Port Authority Police officers buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Jason Thomas
USMC Jason Thomas, September 11, 2001.JPG
Thomas standing at the ruins of the World Trade Center in 2001, days after the attacks.
Born1974 (age 47–48)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
 United States Air Force
Years of service1993–2006 (Marine Corps)
2006–present (Air Force)
RankUSMC-E5.svg Sergeant (Marine Corps)
E6 USAF TSGT.svg Technical Sergeant (Air Force)
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Iraq War[citation needed]
Spouse(s)Kirsti Thomas
Other workOfficer for the Ohio Supreme Court (2018–present)


2001: September 11 attacksEdit

On September 11, 2001, Thomas was dropping his daughter off at the home of his mother on Long Island when she told him planes had struck the towers. The 27-year-old Thomas, having left active duty in August 2001, quickly put on his Marine uniform (camouflage utilities), sped to Manhattan, and had just parked his car when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.[1]

Thomas told the Associated Press:

"Someone needed help. It didn't matter who," he said. "I didn't even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, 'My city is in need.'"[1]

Thomas ran into another Marine veteran, Staff Sgt. David Karnes. Thomas presented a plan for a search-and-rescue mission of the area, and he and Karnes tried to enlist other marines and soldiers on site to help. When they were told the mission was too dangerous, they decided to go by themselves. "I found a couple guys, but it wasn't enough, to them, to start a search and rescue," he said. "I remember myself and Karnes saying, 'We're going to start the search and rescue with or without you, because someone needs us.'"

Carrying an infantryman's shovel, the two climbed the debris, calling out, "Is anyone down there? United States Marines!" They met an operating engineer, who had a flashlight, and crawled down into the hole where the 2 police officers were trapped. The engineer climbed out, and brought back New York City Police Department officers.

Thomas said he returned to Ground Zero every day to pitch in, before attempting to put the events behind him. He did not even tell his five children about his rescues. He had identified himself to Karnes and others only as "Sergeant Thomas".

Thomas is now serving in the United States Air Force as a medical technician since 2006.[2]

Thomas was portrayed in Oliver Stone's feature film World Trade Center by William Mapother.[3] This portrayal by a white actor generated controversy, and the producers stated that they were unaware that the real Thomas was black until they had already started filming.[4][5]

On February 11, 2007, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition aired a special two-hour episode about Thomas and his family. Following the attacks, Thomas and his wife had moved their four children from New York to Whitehall, Ohio. The house they bought began to deteriorate and the show intervened to help them.

On September 2, 2013, Channel 4 in the UK broadcast The Lost Hero of 9/11, which detailed Thomas' involvement in the rescue operation following the collapse of the towers.[6]

After 9/11Edit

As of 2018, Thomas was living in Whitehall, Ohio with his wife Kirsti and their children. He works as an officer for the Ohio Supreme Court as well as being a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b Caruso, David B (August 14, 2006). "Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself". Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on 2006-08-22.
  2. ^ "Time to get your flu shot". www.445aw.afrc.af.mil. Retrieved 2018-01-08. Staff Sgt. Jason Thomas, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, administers a flu vaccine to Staff Sgt. Joshua McCrabb, 445th Security Forces Squadron craftsman, during the Oct. 13 unit training assembly for the 2012–13 flu season
  3. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469641/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm[user-generated source]
  4. ^ Spencer, Lester (August 22, 2006). "Oliver Stone's 'Trade Center' Casting Recall". NPR. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  5. ^ "Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself". NBC News. msnbc.com. Associated Press. 15 August 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. ^ "The Lost Hero of 9/11". Channel 4. 2013. Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  7. ^ Feran, Tim (Jun 16, 2007). "Whitehall family opens home for tours after 'Extreme Makeover'". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  8. ^ Gant, Jenna (October 26, 2012). "9/11 Hero Speaks to Ohio's Law Enforcement Officers". www.courtnewsohio.gov. Retrieved 2018-01-08.

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