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Ivan J. Thomas

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Ivan J. Thomas, retired U.S. Air Force major, passed away peacefully Friday, Nov. 7, 2008, at the age of 88. Ivan was born April 10, 1920, to W.A. Thomas and Irene V. Thomas. He was one of seven children.
He graduated from Estancia High School and attended the New Mexico School of Mines, going in to the Army Air Corps in 1941. While in the Army he attended aircraft mechanics school and was enrolled in the Enlisted Pilots Training Program, graduating in 1943. He flew training aircraft for bombardiers and navigators. After being trained as a B-24 pilot he was assigned to Gowen Field to become part of a combat group. This group was deployed to Africa and Italy, where he flew a combat tour as a lead pilot for the group. While in Italy, Ivan was given a direct commission as a second lieutenant.
After the war Ivan decided to stay in the service. Ivan was assigned in Germany where he took part in the Berlin Airlift. He was stationed in Florida where he flew air sea rescue missions and in Alaska where he flew into remote landing strips.   
Retiring from the Air Force in 1964, he went to work for the state of New Mexico in the Health and Social Services Department as a caseworker and office manager. He retired from the state in 1979.
Ivan was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Elsie; his mother and father; and brothers Lee and Billy.
Survivors are his two adopted sons H.S. Thomas, of Ruidoso, and Ernest D. Thomas, of Albuquerque; his brother Bob, of El Paso, Texas; three sisters, Erma McGee, of Estancia, Norma Everett, of Española, and LaRue Zink, of Albuquerque; and two grandsons, one granddaughter, one great-grandson and three great-granddaughters.
Funeral service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, with the Rev. Canon Peter Sanderson officiating at the Alamogordo Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will follow at Monte Vista Cemetery.
The Thomas family has entrusted their loved one to the care of Alamogordo Funeral Home to direct the funeral services. 

To sign the online guestbook, please visit
www.alamogordofuneralhome.org

Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Nov. 14 to Nov. 28, 2008
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