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 Thomas Leland Pittman

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Thomas Leland Pittman

Thomas Leland Pittman, born June 17, 1920, in Grand Falls, Texas, passed away on Thursday, June 22, 2006.

He grew up in Fabens, Texas, where he played football for the Fabens High School.

He served proudly and honorably in the Army Air Corps (later known as the Air Force). As a pilot and navigator, he was assigned to the 315th Bomb Wing in Guam. He flew the first airlift into Japan after their surrender during World War II. He was recalled during the Cold War and was assigned to the Strategic Air Command to fly converted B-29s to refuel U.S. Strategic bombers that were continuously protecting our country. He was one of the first pilots to perform air-to-air refueling. Later, he became a command pilot, flying B-47s for the Strategic Air Command. In 1955, while testing a new type of flight suit, his B-47 exploded in midair over the eastern Canadian wilderness. When he was miraculously discovered alive four days later, he had bravely used his parachute to fashion a tourniquet for his badly mangled leg and built a shelter. He was being guarded by a pack of wolves. He later said that the wolves had saved his life by protecting him from an aggressive moose. He lost his leg, but he kept flying. He was a Missile Man (Silo Launch) and Four-Headed Monster – pilot, navigator, bombardier and radar man for B-47 Stratojet Bombers.

During his distinguished career, he received many awards including the Meritorious Service Award, Air Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, American Theater Service Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal. He was most proud to be nominated by his fellow pilots for the coveted Aviator's Valor Award in 1955. He commanded the AF Recruiting and Language Schools at Lackland AFB before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

He was a Christian man, lifetime member of the Masonic Lodge, and Alzafar Shrine organization. His benevolence was well known. He took great interest in the work of the Shriner Crippled Children's Hospital. He met life head on, embracing whatever challenges came.

Golf, travel, plants and his family and friends were his passions in later years. He will be missed.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jean; daughter, Cathe; sons, Tom and wife Susan, Bobby, and Larry and wife Laura; sister, Clara, Lois and Mary Carolyn and his special companion Samson. He was "Badaddy" to many loving and devoted grandchildren who held a special place in his heart.

He was preceded in death by his daughter Judy.

A service to celebrate and honor his life was held on Friday, August 11 at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. [Based on an obituary published 28 June 2006 in The Williamson County Sun, Georgetown, TX.]


Howell Cobb and Mary Ella were my Great Uncle and Aunt and Tom my 1st cousin 1x removed. He and my Dad were Double Cousins as their Pittman Fathers married Carroll Sisters.

Sue Pittman McPeak, Contributor #47574044

Family Members

  • Created by: John Christeson
  • Added: 28 Jun 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 14761772
  • Sue Pittman McPeak
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Leland Pittman (17 Jun 1920–22 Jun 2006), Find A Grave Memorial no. 14761772, citing Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, Killeen, Bell County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by John Christeson (contributor 46562435) .