Thomas Reeves enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as Electrician third class on July 20, 1917. Released from duty July 21, 1919, he was recalled to active duty and was transferred to the regular Navy April 16, 1920 and served until discharged August 21, 1921. On October 12, 1921 he re-enlisted in the Navy making it his career.
Advanced through the rates to chief radioman, Reeves was serving in the battleshipUSS California (BB-44) when the Japaneseattacked Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. During that attack the mechanized ammunition hoists in the battleship were put out of commission. Reeves "... on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire which resulted in his death." For his distinguished conduct, RMC Reeves posthumously received the Medal of Honor.
For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. After the mechanized ammunition hoists were put out of action in the U.S.S. California, Reeves, on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire, which resulted in his death.