PIANKA THOMAS A. PIANKA Col., USA (Ret.) On September 11, 2008 near Annapolis, at the age of 73. Col. Thomas was preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary Ann; and is survived by his sons, Robert Edward (Kathleen Argires) Pianka of Lancaster, PA and Thomas Joseph (Amy Chen) Pianka of China; grandchildren James, Mary Ann, Sean, and Kurt Pianka; and a brother Raymond A. Pianka. He also leaves behind his dear long-time companion Judith Cluverius; and her children Charlotte Cluverius of Washington, DC, and Tyler Cluverius of Seattle, WA. Col. Thomas was born and raised in Erie, PA, and joined the Army after finishing college. He became a distinguished U.S. Army intelligence officer, and specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. Among the highlights of his military career, he served for four years as U.S. Army Attach in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he worked tirelessly on issues involving Israel and neighboring Arab states; as country director for Arab-Israeli affairs in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense during a period of major U.S. involvement in the Middle East; and on a special assignment to the Department of State as an advisor on Israel-Egypt peacekeeping. During this last assignment, he helped establish the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which has successfully maintained the peace between Israel and Egypt for almost 30 years, thereby playing a major role in preventing further military hostilities between these key Middle East states. In the seven years that followed his retirement from the U.S. Army, he worked as a researcher on Middle East issues and designed and tested crisis management scenarios for the State Department as a contract expert. In addition to his service in Israel, his overseas assignments included a year in Vietnam and residence and travel in a number of Arab countries. The family will receive friends on Monday, September 15, 2008 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314. Burial with Full Military Honors will take place on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 9 a.m. at the Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, it was Col. Thomas' request that donations be made in his late wife's memory to the
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Published in The Washington Post on Sept. 14, 2008