Print This Article The Wichita Eagle Back to web version
Friday, June 27, 2014

Bel Aire native killed in Afghanistan

BY DEB GRUVER
The Wichita Eagle

Thomas Bohall wasn't the star of his winning high school soccer team. He didn't even start his senior year.

But at a celebration after the team took second statewide, his coach talked about how he was the life of the team.

Army Sgt. Thomas A. Bohall, 25, a Bel Aire native and a graduate of Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, died Thursday in Afghanistan with five other soldiers when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province.

His father, Tim Bohall of Weston, Fla., on Sunday recalled his son's coach's words. Sgt. Bohall was a goalie who played behind one of the top-rated goalies in the country, Tim Bohall said.

The coach started by talking about the underclassmen, then the seniors. Tim Bohall said he expected the coach to call his son's name first when he got to the seniors. He waited and waited as the coach introduced "Mr. San Antonio Soccer" and "Mr. Texas High School Soccer."

At some point, Tim Bohall said, a fellow player told the coach, "You forgot about Thomas." The coach replied, "I'm saving Thomas for last."

"Thomas had never started a varsity game," his father said. "Thomas had never scored a goal. And what the coach said was, 'This man was the life of our team. He rode the bench, but he never sat on the bench.' They called him the 'Rev' because he was the strength of the team."

The coach, he said, told those at the celebration, "I'd give anything to have a hundred Thomases."

Sgt. Bohall would run up and down the field during games, cheering his team on, not satisfied to sit on the bench, his father said.

"I believe in my heart that that is the way that Thomas carried himself with his troops serving our country," Tim Bohall said. "Thomas reveled in the success of his team and the success of others."

Sgt. Bohall was an infantryman who joined the Army in August 2005 and arrived at Fort Campbell in Kentucky in October 2008.

He earned several decorations and awards and served in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sgt. Bohall was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell.

Sgt. Bohall "never met a man that he considered his enemy," his father said. "Thomas loved what he was doing. He felt a true calling to serve the way that he served."

Lorna Geist of Bel Aire, Sgt. Bohall's mother, said her son attended middle school at Sunrise Christian Academy and spent two years at Heights High School. He spent his junior and senior years in Texas with his father.

"Tom loved adventure," Geist said. "He loved the outdoors."

She remembers him catching a snapping turtle at age 8, coming home proud.

"Look, Mom," he told her. "I caught a snapping turtle out of the lake."

He told her, "Don't worry; I'm going to take it back. I just wanted you to see it."

"He was into the next adventure," she said. "He loved the Airborne. He loved jumping out of planes."

A short service was held Saturday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Tim Bohall said several military dignitaries attended, including three members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Services for Sgt. Bohall are pending.

Sgt. Bohall's survivors include his wife, Jessica, and daughter, Annabelle, both of Essington, Pa.

© 2011 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.kansas.com