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Aug. 24, 2006
Jason Thomas Recognized for Bravery on Sept. 11 in Ceremony at Supreme Court of Ohio

Jason Thomas, a Supreme Court of Ohio court security officer, was recognized Wednesday in a ceremony for his acts of heroism and bravery on Sept. 11 at the site of the World Trade Center. The ceremony was held in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the Ohio Judicial Center and was attended by more than 300 people.

Thomas, who has been an employee of the Court for more than two years, responded on Sept. 11, 2001, to the site of the World Trade Center and was instrumental in the heroic rescue of two New York Port Authority officers. His courageous actions that day only recently came to light with the release of the movie, “World Trade Center,” in which the rescue is portrayed.

“Thousands of stories of courage have been created by the events of September 11, 2001,” said Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, addressing Thomas. “Each day in America , thousands more could be reported but none are more classic; none define more precisely the attributes of courage and humility than your September 11th mission.

“You understood the risk to your own life, you acted as you knew you must in spite of dangers and obstacles, and you saved the lives of two human beings,” Moyer said. “Your conduct demonstrated your character—not your popularity; your selflessness, not your vanity.”

The ceremony also included remarks and the presentation of several proclamations and commendations honoring Thomas by Supreme Court Justices Maureen O'Connor and Terrence O'Donnell; Lieutenant Governor Bruce Johnson; Jon Husted, speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives; Joyce Beatty, House minority leader; state Senators Jeff Jacobson, president pro tempore and Kimberly Zurz, assistant minority leader; and Rick Isbell, veterans affairs coordinator for the city of Columbus.

A New York native, Thomas was a former Marine sergeant studying criminal justice and living with his mother on Long Island on Sept. 11 when he heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He immediately understood that his city was under attack. He suited up in his old Marine Corps fatigues and headed to Lower Manhattan, arriving just as the second tower was collapsing.

Thomas met with another fellow former Marine, Staff Sgt. David Karnes, and the two were among the very first to begin combing through the horrible wreckage calling out for survivors. He and Sgt. Karnes ended up finding and ultimately rescuing Officer Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin of the New York Port Authority Police.

Until a couple weeks ago, Thomas had only shared what happened that day with a handful of family members. His story only recently came to light with the release of the World Trade Center film.

“What I saw in the two and a half weeks I spent at ground zero I will never forget,” Thomas said during the ceremony. “No one American, or otherwise should ever forgot the tragedy of the lives lost that day. No one American, or otherwise should ever forget the anguish and fear that was sustained that day and that will continue to be felt forever.”

“What I did that day was for neither glory, nor profit, acclaim nor fame,” Thomas said. “As I stood among the burning twisted metal, I simply refused to accept that there was no hope for more survivors. I felt compelled to do something more, I felt compelled to step on faith and courage. Although the odds were against me, when I heard the faint voice of trapped Officer Will Jimeno, I was filled with compassion. The search that I and Staff Sgt. Karnes dedicated ourselves to, along with countless other dedicated men and women, paid off.”

“I feel this special recognition is not just for me, but for many other 1st and 2nd responders who assisted on that fateful day, many who lost their lives. They are the true heroes of his story. I just feel privileged to have been able to help on that day.”

Contact: Chris Davey or Andrea Strle at 614.387.9250.