Second Lieutenant Erwin Acil Thomas was born in Burnside, Michigan, on February 5, 1893, the son of John C. Thomas and Lucy Ann Foster. He had four siblings: Charles, William, James, and Walter. In 1917, he joined the United States Army, and he served abroad with the 125th Infantry Regiment's machine gun company between March 1918 and May 1919. He participated in active combat at the front lines in France, and he was stationed in Germany in late 1918 and early 1919. During the war, his family lived in Pontiac and Brown City, Michigan. On June 27, 1927, he married his second wife, Grace E. Joslin of Clare, Michigan; they had at least one son, Clarence. In 1940, Erwin lived in Montrose, California, with his wife (listed as "Pearl") and two children: Clarence and Erwin, Jr. Erwin A. Thomas died in California on May 10, 1980.