Donald C. Thomas

Donald C. Thomas

Let it be known that it is with great respect and admiration that we honor retired Lieutenant Colonel Donald C. Thomas Jr., U.S. Air Force, upon his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor. Thomas served a distinguished military career, including service during five different decades 1940s-1980s. Indeed, his contribution to his country is a feat to which we all should aspire.

Donald C. Thomas Jr., of Detroit, Michigan was born on Sunday, November 14, 1926. He earned a BA degree in natural sciences from Wayne State University in 1948, BS degree in science education and his MA degree in education from Tuskegee University. Don joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1944 and completed his Tuskegee Airmen training, as a documented original Tuskegee Airmen. Thomas was discharged after World War II and rejoined the military with the newly created U.S. Air Force in 1950.

Thomas served as commander of security forces at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany and Provost Marshal for the Iceland Defense Force at Keflavik, Iceland. He was an aviator with 6,800 flight hours, of which 2,000 were during carrier missions. Don qualified in 17 different aircraft types, including single, multi-engine propeller and jet aircraft: PT-13, T-6, T-28, B-25, C-47, C-46, SA-16, C-82, C-119, C-130, T-33, F-80, F-84, F-86, DC-9, T-39 and C-141. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas retired in 1983 after a career with service in World War II, Cold War, Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (2), the Air Medal (2), the Joint Service Commendation Medal (2), Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Air Force Meritorious Unit Award, Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (4), Short Tour Ribbon, Long Tour Ribbon and the Congressional Gold Medal. Don was an instructor at Embry-Riddle University and assistant professor for aerospace science at North Carolina A&T University. Thomas attended the opening of the “Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site” in Tuskegee, Alabama on Friday, October 10, 2008. The “Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated Macon-Thomas West Bloomfield Chapter” in Michigan was co-named in his honor. Don served as president of the “Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum” located at historic Fort Wayne along the Detroit River. Thomas was a Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame inductee in 2015. He died on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at the age of 85.

Indeed, the patriotic contributions of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas must be recognized, as in all who have served the United States of America in this capacity. The personal sacrifice so selflessly offered by these brave men and women for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must never be forgotten. Don Thomas embraced the essence of American heroism and should be recognized as a role model by all individuals.

In special tribute, therefore, we honor Lieutenant Colonel Thomas for his exemplary service to the United States of America, and to commemorate his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor.