Captain Thomas A. Loomis was a career military man who flew combat missions in the Korean War and briefly commanded the naval aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga during the Vietnam War.
Loomis was born in Perry, Okla. on August 26, 1925 and grew up in nearby Enid during the height of the Dust Bowl. At 16 years old he was too young to enlist when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 1941. He joined an ROTC program the following summer and first experienced Navy life during a summer sea cruise on the U.S.S. West Virginia.
But flying had been a dream of his since his 14th birthday, when his father paid 50 cents for him to ride in a tri-motor plane over Enid at sunset. So he jumped at a chance to train to become a pilot in 1944.
Loomis was only about halfway through his training when World War II ended. After discharge he enrolled in the University of Michigan to study forestry. Upon graduating in 1947, he briefly took a job in Detroit for the Boy Scouts of America until he reentered the Navy as an officer flight student in 1948.
Thus began his true life’s work. In the Korean War, he flew bombing missions near the border of China and North Korea. He was wounded by shrapnel in a mission, and his efforts earned him an air medal and a purple heart.
After Korea, he served as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Fla. and later hunted Soviet submarines from aboard aircraft carriers in the western Atlantic. Those missions were occasionally eventful, too. One time, his plane lost power after it was struck by lightning. Another time, he had to wrestle controls away from a commanding officer who suffered vertigo while piloting.
During the Vietnam War, Loomis was assigned to the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga in the Gulf of Tonkin. He spent a year navigating the ship and then rose to executive officer. On his second deployment Loomis was named captain of the ship, and he served in that role for about two months.
After his service in Vietnam, Loomis earned a master’s degree in Systems Management and spent a brief time working at the Pentagon before retiring from active duty in 1974.
MOAA: MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, ALAMO CHAPTER, Fort Sam Houston, TX.