There are an infinite number of stories that have come out of September 11, a fateful day 22 years ago that changed the world forever.
Sgt. Jason Thomas is one of those stories. Thomas is an American Marine who gained national recognition for his heroic actions on September 11, 2001. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, like most people was supposed to be a typical day for him. He has initially stayed under the radar, however, his story still came to prominence in the years following the attacks as the public learned more about the acts of heroism and selflessness that occurred that day. He has no Twitter or easily found social media. I have looked.
On September 11, 2001, Sgt. Jason Thomas was not on duty but was living in the vicinity of the World Trade Center. He had just dropped off his daughter from school. When he witnessed the first plane crash into the North Tower, he immediately realized the gravity of the situation and felt compelled to take action. Without hesitation, he rushed to the scene to assist in the rescue efforts. He told the Associated Press, “Someone needed help. It didn’t matter who. 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.’”
Thomas, along with another Marine, Staff Sgt. Dave Karnes, spent hours searching through the wreckage and debris for survivors. Their determination and bravery were crucial in helping to locate two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who were trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed towers. Thomas and Karnes played a vital role in keeping the officers alive and providing them with reassurance until they could be rescued.
Sgt. Jason Thomas’s actions, along with those of many other first responders and volunteers on that fateful day, exemplify the spirit of heroism and selflessness that emerged in the face of adversity. These individuals risked their own lives to save others and provide hope amid the tragedy. Sgt. Thomas’s story serves as a testament to the resilience and courage displayed by countless individuals in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
It’s important to note that Sgt. Jason Thomas is a real-life hero. He is still alive. His story is just one of many tales of bravery and sacrifice that emerged from the events of September 11, 2001. His actions and the actions of others that day continue to be remembered and honored as part of the collective memory of 9/11.
But, there is another side to this extraordinary tale of valor.
Sgt. Jason Thomas and his fellow Marine, Staff Sgt. Dave Karnes, were portrayed in the 2006 film “World Trade Center,” directed by legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone. This movie is a dramatic retelling of the events of September 11, 2001. It focuses on the experiences of two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, who were trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center and rescued with the help of Thomas and Karnes.
In the film, Staff Sgt. Dave Karnes was portrayed by actor Michael Shannon and Sgt. Jason Thomas was portrayed by actor William Mapother. Mapother is a white man and first cousin to megastar Tom Cruise. The movie aims to capture the heroism and resilience of individuals like Thomas and Karnes, but is a definite act of overt racism in not portraying Thomas as an African American.
The movie’s producer apologized in 2006 after the purported error was discovered, seemingly after the movie began taping. Thomas, acknowledged the “mistake,” and seemed understanding about this oversight. Nevertheless, he emerged to ensure that the accurate story could be conveyed. Understandably, Black people cried foul, expressing concerns and disappointment regarding the error.
Thomas has been called The Lost Hero of 9/11but we’ll keep telling his story for years to come, along with the others that have selflessly helped make this nation better. They will no longer be washed away or marginalized.
Here is an interview with Sgt. Jason Thomas: