Lt. Col. Thomas F. Gannon, U.S. Air Force (ret.), age 92, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., passed away on Jan. 29, 2013.
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He was born on July 10, 1920, to Thomas F. and Ursula C. Gannon in Dover, N.J.
He was a flight navigator over a 35 year period, and flew combat in WWII and Korea. He was shot down in WWII, and became a prisoner-of-war in Germany for 15 months. He spent 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, and retired in 1964. After obtaining his FAA Navigator license, he flew with International Air Bahama Air Lines over the Atlantic then Braniff International Airlines over the Pacific. When the airlines became computerized, he joined Lockheed International, and flew as C-130 instructor navigator with the Libyan Air Force, in Tripoli, Libya, over a five-year period. While there, He met his future wife, Kathleen, and they were married after returning to Fort Walton Beach.
As a Master Navigator, He was always interested in the Earhart Disappearance, together with Tom Willi, a retired Navy Commander; they replotted her flight, and came up with the probable crash sight. They recruited Tighar, an aircraft search organization, to do the search. After a total of 6 searches at the same island, enough evidence was found to convince all concerned that this was indeed the actual island where Earhart's flight ended.
Tom was well known and admired for his daily exercise regimen, his sharp mind, quick wit, and his young at heart outlook on life.
He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Kathleen. Tom will be deeply missed by his loving family. His beloved Elizabeth Harkins, Andrew Harkins, Julia Kearns, Scott Nance, Stephanie Jones, Hunter Jones, Melanie Kepple, Ian Nichols and Harleyann Jones.
Family will greet friends on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at St. Mary Catholic Church for Visitation at 10 a.m. to be followed by a celebration of Mass at 10:30 a.m. and burial at Beal Memorial Cemetery, with full military honors.
In lieu of flowers, Tom would have wanted donations to be made to St. Mary Catholic Church 110 St. Mary Ave SW Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com.
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
161 Racetrack Rd NW
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on Feb. 3, 2013