Richard Jay Thoma
Born in Nashville Tennessee, Moved to Fresno Calif. In 1960.
Current location: Moved to Lake Tahoe in 1989.
Branch of Service: U.S Navy
Rank: AA, E-2
Length of Service: 07.1972 – 10.1973 6 months Of that spent in Hospital.
Brief Service History:
Went to boot camp summer of 1972, after Graduating, had two week leave at home
before departing to Memphis Tennessee for Airman School. After completing I was
assigned to Duty Station at Alameda Naval Air Station and was assigned to the U.S.S Coral Sea CVA-43...Unfortunately I have no pictures of Deployment.
Description of Injury Event:
We left Subic Bay Philippines around April 2nd 1973 for a 30 Day line period in the South China Sea, about the 10th day out we were doing Flight Ops, from what I
remember there was an Aircraft coming in with an emergency (had lost hydraulics in its front landing gear) we were getting ready to rig the emergency barricade to catch the incoming aircraft and was scrambling the rest of aircraft on flight deck to the hangar bays below. I was underneath a F-4 Phantom Jet releasing the tie downs and was down on one knee in front of the rear landing gear when a tractor driver hooked up to it and began pulling it to hangar elevator and didn't realize I was still underneath aircraft, my right foot got caught by the rear landing wheel and ran up and over my foot and all the way up my leg to my knee, then was backed off to get my leg out.
My leg was crushed and swelled up to the size of a small watermelon, they took me to sick bay and knocked me out and I woke up 3 days later in bed and leg was in traction with all the skin removed to help relive swelling. Stayed aboard ship till we returned to Subic Bay where I stayed in Hospital till I was air lifted to Pearl Harbor and then to Oak knoll Naval Hospital where I stayed another 5 months, they tried to save my leg but there was too much crush injury to the muscles and they decided to amputate my leg, I'm considered an above knee amputee.
Not much to tell other than getting used to walking on a prosthetic leg at age 18 I have no photos of time spent in Hospital.
I have been riding off and on for 47 years, fist bike I had was when I was 16 rode a Honda 125 before going into Navy, after I got out I had a Triumph Bonneville hard tail chopper I rigged with hand shift.
Also had a Harley “79” XLH in the mid 80's same time I had Triumph.
And currently ride a Honda VTX 1300, it's a bit small for me and like with all the bikes I've had I can only ride using front brake only. I would love to have a bike I'd feel safer riding with proper brakes, actually wouldn't be opposed to having a Harley trike or any Harley that's big enough for me setup with the proper adaptive equipment.