Col. William W. Thomas (Ret.) USAF

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  • "It was an honor to have gotten to know Col. Thomas. I will..."
    - Susan Jowers
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Col. William W. Thomas, USAF (Ret.) CHARLESTON - Col. William Waffle "Bill" Thomas, USAF (Ret.) passed away on November 22, 2014, after a brief illness, at the age of 94, as a resident of the Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community, Charleston, South Carolina. Born December 29, 1919 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Fern and Gerard Thomas (deceased). He was the eldest of 4 children, Dale (deceased), Don (deceased) and Mary. He attended country school in Marion, Iowa, graduated from Marion High School in 1937. He attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he obtained his commercial pilot's license with an instructor's rating. He worked for Hawthorne Aviation during the Fall of 1941 as a civilian instructor for the Army. Bill began his military career in 1942 with a direct commission to Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Force, beginning a 30 year military career. In WWII, he served for 2 years as a pilot flying the "Hump" in the China-India-Burma Theater. After the war, he was assigned to several Military Air Transport Service bases from 1945 to 1949. During that period, in 1948, he flew C-52s in the Berlin Airlift. He received recognition and honors for having flown the most flights during the Airlift. From 1950 to 1953, as a Major in the Air Force, he was the pilot for Air Force Secretary, Thomas Finletter. From 1953 to 1961, he was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Air Force One pilot. When reflecting on those 8 years he would say, "The President was a wonderful man to work for." Bill served 2 years as Director of Operations, Plans and Training at Albrook Air Force Base, Panama, 4 years as Director of Operational Requirements at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and 4 years as Vice Commander of the 437th Airlift Wing at Charleston, AFB. On November 1, 1971, he retired as a full Colonel from the military and made his home in Charleston, SC. In 1946, Bill married Win Neal, from Mt Vernon, Iowa. They were married for 64 years and had 4 children. Win passed in 2010. In 2011, Bill married Margaret McSpadden at Bishop Gadsden, both were 91 when they wed. Bill is survived by his wife, Margaret; his sister, Mary Craft; his 4 children, Sandy (Michael), Neal, Shelley (Jack), and Kip (Martha); his 3 step-children Gena (Robert), John Paul (Anne), Roddy; his 7 grandchildren, Brian (Sara), Lisa (Scott), Kelsey, Walker, Hayden, Woody and Gabby; and his 3 great-grandchildren, Addison, Cameron, and Sasha. Those wishing to make a monetary gift in memory of Bill, may send donations to: Braille Institute Auxiliary of Santa Barbara at P O Box 5411, Santa Barbara, CA, 93150 The family wishes to thank all the staff at Bishop Gadsden for the excellent care they provided over the years. His Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, December 20, 2014, in the Bishop Gadsden Chapel at 11:00 am. Inurnment will follow at the Bishop Gadsden Columbarium, with a celebration of life to follow at Blackmer Hall at Bishop Gadsden. Arrangements by J. HENRY STUHR INC., DOWNTOWN CHAPEL. A memorial message may be sent to the family by visiting our website at www.jhenrystuhr.com. Visit our guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ charleston

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J. Henry Stuhr Downtown Chapel
232 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-2524
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Published in Charleston Post & Courier on Dec. 15, 2014
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Funeral Home Details
Charleston, SC   (843) 723-2524
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