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Thomas Ray Bradley

1921 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Bradley, Thomas Ray 09/17/1921 ~ 08/10/2014 CHULA VISTA -- Thomas Ray Bradley, Jr. was born in Charleston, West, VA. He graduated from Cleveland Heights High in Cleveland, OH in 1938. He briefly attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, PA, before enlisting into the U.S. Army Horse Cavalry (the 107th) shortly before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. His unit was assigned the task of moving horses, munitions and supplies to California to guard our coastline. Tom soon volunteered for duty in the Army Air Corps, where he began his love affair with aviation. He soon found himself flying reconnaissance missions over China, snapping photos of Japanese troop movements and installations. Before the war ended, he would brave fifty of these death defying missions under enemy fire, chalking up 50,000 air miles, and earning several wartime decorations including two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He was especially proud to have flown the P-38 Lightening, the fastest and highest flying airplane of day. After World War II, Tom finished his college education at Purdue University in Lafayette, IN, and eventually went to work for Rohr Aircraft in Chula Vista, CA, in 1951. During his fifty years with Rohr Tom earned an international reputation as a metallurgist, discovering new ways to combat corrosion in aircraft parts, extending the useful life of aircraft and making air travel safer. Tom retired from Rohr in 2001 at 80 years young, amid accolades including a proclamation declaring "Tom Bradley Day" in the city of Chula Vista. Tom loved Mexico, and traveled the Baja California peninsula before there were any paved roads south of Ensenada. For many years he braved these rugged and sometimes treacherous roads before finally purchasing a 4-wheel drive vehicle. He also enjoyed being on the ocean. Tom built a 26-foot sailboat with his own hands and was a member of the Coronado Yacht Club. Tom spent his retirement traveling, especially to the family getaway at Laguna Percebu in Baja California. He volunteered with Meals on Wheels and was a Retired Senior Volunteer Patrolman with the California Highway Patrol. He loved listening to big band music and jazz, enjoying life and family at his home in Mission Beach. He was preceded in death by the love of his life, Doris, his wife of 61 years. He is survived by their four children, Duane, Scott, Vivian, and Karl. He was also blessed with eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. His newest great grandson, Otis Bear Bradley, was born the day before Tom passed away. Tom Bradley was brave and brilliant. He was filled with a spirit of adventure and never took life, love, or duty for granted. Tom inspired all who were fortunate to have known him, bringing out the best in those who loved him most. A celebration of Tom's life will be scheduled soon. Meantime, the family asks in lieu of flowers, please make donations to KSDS Jazz Radio or Salvation Army.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Aug. 31, 2014
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