Local Jonestown Survivor Speaks Out About Controversial Memorial

By Laura Cole

DIXON (CBS13) — A controversial memorial for the massacre at Jonestown will include the name of mass murderer Jim Jones, and now one local Jonestown survivor is speaking out about it.

Few can share the stories of Jonestown, but Thom Bogue can. He is a survivor who became a small business owner and a Dixon city councilmember.

“When life is in its down moments, it can never go down as far as it has ever been for me,” said Thom.

Thom’s family was loyal disciples Rev. Jim Jones. By 14, Thom he was living in Jonestown.

“At that point, he is God, see. And that’s the difference is in his mind he was everything to everybody,” said Thom.

But, after three years his family was ready to leave. And when a congressman and his aides showed up, they saw a way out.

“At that point I was scared. We were all scared when we were actually leaving because it was too easy. It was too easy,” said Thom.

When they got on a private plane, gunmen showed up and started shooting.

“It’s obvious. It’s either close the airplane door or die,” he said.

jonestown survivor Local Jonestown Survivor Speaks Out About Controversial Memorial

Thom Bogue was 14 when he escaped from Jonestown.

Thom and his sister were both shot and ran into the jungle where they hid for three days and two nights until locals helped them to safety and reunited them with their parents. That’s when they learned that more than 900 people in Jonestown had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. It was all orchestrated by the man who believed he was God.

When asked if he thought Jones was a mass murderer, Thom said he does.

More than 30 years later, Jim Jones is once again at the center of controversy. The issue is whether Jones’ name should be on a monument for a memorial at the Oakland Cemetery where many of his victims are buried.

Thom said he doesn’t have a problem with Jones’ name on the memorial because it’s piece of a lot of peoples’ past — a past that has helped Thom build his future as a booming auto mechanic and now a Dixon City councilmember. He has already put Jonestown behind him, and just hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.

“If you find yourself in that situation run and don’t ever look back,” said Thom.

Thom says he hasn’t spoken to Congresswoman Jackie Speier since the day of the shooting. But he credits her and the late congressman Leo Ryan with saving his life.

  • Bill B.

    That is like having a Holocaust memorial and having Adolf Hitler’s name on a memorial.

    Perhaps they could have a “thank you” to Jim Jones on the plaque for making all this possible.

    I remember right after the incident I was on a sales trip – drove behind the old synagogue on Geary St that was Jone’s “church” – seeing literally 100s of parked cars and shipping containers belonging to people who I knew were dead. What an eerie sight and feeling.

  • Alan

    This is filed as a report under CBS Sacramento. Does this indicate it is a contribution from a community member or is it supposed to be a contribution by a professional journalist?

    If the latter then maybe this sentence:

    Thom’s family was loyal disciples Rev. Jim Jones. By 14, Thom he was living in Jonestown.

    Could be written in understandable English as:

    Thom’s family were loyal disciples of the Rev. Jim Jones. By age 14, Thom was living in Jonestown.

    Or it could have been:

    Thom’s family was loyal to the Rev. Jim Jones. By age 14, Thom was living in Jonestown.

    Either way, as written in the article, it shows a lack of professional approach.

    I t also decides that Jim Jones was a mass murderer in the first sentence. This is something that seems currently unquestioned in the mass media. Why then to go on later in the article to question it. Perhaps just to have it confirmed.

    All in all comes across as one those “I was told to write this article … so here you are” efforts. I hope Ms. Laura Cole will have other opportunities to show us that she has real journalistic skills.

    • Eight Cats Home

      Sorry. Your rewrites are worse than the original. Think sententious. You onfuse subject with content.You end with false syllogism? Personal attack? Come on! I hear you hiding behind anonymity from possible libel.

      • James

        You are an idiot. Alan is correct. If you are writing an article, at least have enough education to write it correctly. The entire original article is horribly written.

  • steve

    i was also totally against the name being added to the plaque, but after hearing Mr.Bouge on the news talking about it was horrible but it is history

  • mars

    After being shot, I guess they did not loose much blood while hiding in the jungle for two nights and three days. Also, I guess they were not bleeding from being shot, as most people would, because the blood would have left a trail. Maybe his parents were some of the guards that forced others to drink the cyanide laced kool aid, and shot others that were trying to flee? His story is suspicious. Plus, the parents survived the shooting at the airport? A little bit too much luck for one family.

  • mars

    Maybe his parents were some of the shooters at the airport. Sounds like he still has some loyalty for Jim Jones.

    • Michelle

      Give it up Mars. He was a kid. Jackie Speier survived several shot gun wounds after laying on the tarmac for hours. Some people are just survivors. It really can be that simple.

  • Primetime Editorials
    • Shelly

      Not if your blog is in all caps and written as poorly as your comment.

  • Mike

    If Jones is named as the murderer of all those people, yes include his name. Otherwise only name the victims!

  • Lori

    I really don’t think a memorial to mass suicide is appropriate. Now matter how you look at it.

  • https://jonestownstuff.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/interview-with-thom-bogue-tommy/ interview with thom bogue (tommy) | jonestownstuff
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