Thomas Nolan Oglesby
November 18, 1919 - June 24, 2018
On Saturday the twenty third of June, two thousand and eighteen, Thomas Nolan Oglesby died peacefully in the presence of his loving family. He lived a full and worthwhile life of 98 years. Thomas was the fifth child of eleven, born to Herman Leaton Oglesby and Lola Margaret Waller on November 18, 1919 in Arkinda, Arkansas. To help out with the family expenses, young Tom dropped out of school after the eighth grade and went to work in the family logging business. In their free time, Tom and his many siblings enjoyed roaming around Arkinda and nearby Foreman, hunting and fishing and going to the local dance hall. If one brother got into a fight, you better believe the others weren't far behind in coming to his defense.
Tom met the love of his life, Mattie Anola Stephens, at church in 1939. Against her parents' wishes, Tom and Mattie eloped on December 24, 1940 and remained happily married until Mattie's death in May 2006. In the first years of their marriage, Tom and Mattie lived on the line road between Arkansas and Oklahoma. In October 1942, their son Burnice Augustus Oglesby was born. Two months later, Pfc. Thomas Nolan Oglesby began his service to our country as part of the 2nd Infantry Division in the United States Army. He was sworn into active duty in Shreveport, Louisiana and attended Basic Training at Camp McCoy near Tomah, Wisconsin.
In September 1943, Tom set sail from New York to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he trained in County Armagh in preparation for the European invasion. Seven months later, he shipped to Swansea, Wales, where the 2nd Infantry Division joined the rest of the American fleet prior to the D-Day invasion. He boarded a transport ship headed to Normandy as part of the third wave of "Operation Overland" on June 4, 1944. Tom and the rest of the 2nd Division landed on Omaha Beach early in the morning of June 7, 1944 as German warplanes swarmed overhead. From there, he became engaged in heavy town and hedgerow fighting throughout the Normandy region, liberating Formigny, Trevieres, and Ceresy-la-foret, before being stalled outside St.Georges de'Elle, near Hill 192.
As a decorated war hero, Tom earned a Bronze Star for his actions on June 14, 1944 during a German counter-attack. After thirteen long hours of combat, he picked up the BAR (Browning Assault Rifle) when the BAR man fell wounded and eliminated 13 enemy assailants. Two days later, on June 16, 1944, Tom earned a Silver Star when he singularly jumped a hedgerow and eliminated an enemy machine gun nest, saving his entire platoon. He later discovered three bullet holes in his uniform; one bullet was stopped by the wallet he kept in his breast pocket, with his wife and son's picture inside. During the battle for Hill 192 on June 17, 1944 Tom survived a mortar shell blast that killed two of his fellow brother soldiers, earning a Purple Heart for his wounds.
Upon recovering from his injuries, instead of returning stateside (being the true badass that he was), Tom requested to return to his platoon as they headed into Belgium to participate in the Battle of the Ardennes. His platoon was on the frontline during the Battle of the Bulge, dug in near Krinkelt, Belgium. His squad was tasked as a "suicide squad" to cover the rear as his outfit retreated. After the Battle of the Bulge, his battalion chased the Germans over the Rhine, near the Remagen Bridge, through Leipzig. Tom and his platoon were in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied forces on May 8, 1945.
Shortly after returning stateside, Tom moved his family to Oregon, where he continued his logging career, alongside his brother Perk, in and around the forests of Southern Oregon and later Northern California. In 1950, Tom moved his family to Redding, California. Tom and Mattie welcomed their second child, a daughter, Cathy Anola Oglesby in April of 1952.
When not working, Tom enjoyed boating, fishing, and camping with his family and friends in and around Shasta County. He retired from logging in 1984, but he wasn't the kind of man to sit around and do nothing. You would often find him outside in his workshop, building birdhouses and wagons or taking something apart that needed to be repaired. You could also find him indulging in his favorite breakfast, biscuits and gravy, at Black Bear Diner before heading to manage the booth he ran, The Boar's Nest, at Jolly Giant Flea Market. As a devoted family man, Tom loved driving around the country, visiting his children and grandchildren. Tom was very active and mobile well into his nineties. He was even able to return to Europe on several occasions, where he shared his war experiences with his family. His most recent trip was on the anniversary of D-Day in June of 2015.
Thomas Nolan Oglesby will be laid to rest next to his wife Mattie at the Redding Cemetery. He will join his parents and passed siblings, Francis, Roland, Ausburn Lucille, Verna, Edgar, Orville, Iva Chesaline, Bryant, and Juanita, as well as his son Burnice, who passed in January of 2010. Tom is survived by his daughter Cathy Oglesby Hessling, Redding, CA; grandchildren Mark Oglesby (Karen), Allen, TX, Kristen Oglesby, Los Angeles, CA, Tessa Walsh, Beaverton, OR and great grandchildren Eeliyana Paraiso, Taylor Hultgren, and Madison Oglesby, along with several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A memorial service will be held at Lawncrest Chapel 1522 East Cypress Avenue, Redding, CA 96002 on Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
Please sign the guestbook at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/redding/
Published in Redding Record Searchlight on July 1, 2018
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