Ralph Thomas

US Air Force 1967 – 1990

Enlisted United States Air Force May 3, 1967 and sworn in at Federal Building in St Louis, Missouri. Shipped to Amarillo AFB, Texas for six weeks of basic training. Amarillo was a hot dry desolate place, with no trees. For six weeks practiced marching, military classes on USAF history, uniform, and military bearing. In August, sent to Keesler AFB, Mississippi for air traffic control school. Graduated January 1968 and assigned to Ellsworth AFB Base Control Tower, near Rapid City, south Dakota. From control tower could observe Mt. Rushmore 21 miles away.

One year later in June 1969 sent to Binh Thuy Air Base, South Vietnam, where assigned to GCA (Ground Control Approach) radar unit to control air traffic. Binh Thuy was in Mekong Delta and built by Navy Seabees who dredged sand from a river and made a 4 mile island with a runway. A Vietnamese C-47 cargo plane slid off the runway and hit out GCA unit, destroying it. I was then assigned to an Air Route Traffic Control Center on Binh Thuy and we monitored all air traffic flying in the Mekong Delta. I extended a year in Vietnam and was assigned to Pleiku Air Base in the central highlands in a Radar Approach Control facility.

From Vietnam I was assigned to Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan to work air traffic in the world’s busiest radar approach control. a very demanding facility. In 1972 I was transferred to Takhli, Thailand and remained there two years in a radar facility. In 1974, transferred to Wiesbaden, Germany for a year in a mobile communications unit. In 1975 the unit was reassigned to Patrick AFB, Florida. In 1977 sent on a two year tour to Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base in England to work in control tower. In 14979 returned to United States and joined an airborne unit as a paratrooper. Assigned to Dyess AFB, Texas (Abilene) and McChord AFB Washington (Tacoma). Completed 284 military parachute jumps all over the United States, Panama, and Korea. September 1, 1990 retired from USAF as E-6 Technical Sergeant and returned to Missouri with young family.

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