Lt. Col. (Retired) Thomas L. Brink Lt. Col. (Retired) Thomas L. Brink, of Alexandria, Va., died recently after a short illness. Beloved Son, Father, brother, friend, was taken from this mortal life much too soon, as this pilot flew to his eternal home on May 12, 2008. He was preceded in death by his father, MSgt. (Retired) Logan E Brink, and his wife, Jana. He is survived by his mother, Lucy Brink of Girard, Pa; two sons, Thomas L .Brink Jr of York, Pa. and Brian J Brink of Harrisburg, Pa; two brothers Jim Brink of Erie, Pa. and Timothy Brink of Fairview, Pa., one sister, Joyce Brink, of Girard, Pa. and five grandchildren, and several nephews and a niece. Tom was a well rounded person who enjoyed both a good intense discussion, to just yabba-dabba-doing with his friends at his favorite hangouts. He enjoyed getting away to Aruba to spending time with family. One thing he always had with him was his accordion, which he would bring out to add music and fun to any gathering. He was well known for his tropical shirts he always wore. Tom was born in Ridgway, Pa. on May 24, 1943. Growing up he spent time in Okinawa, attending Kubasaki High School; Fort Knox Kentucky High School and graduated in 1961 from Ridgway Area High School in Ridgway, Pa. Immediately after high school, He traveled throughout Europe, driving truck for the AAFESS system. He entered the US Army in 1963. He completed US Army Preliminary Helicopter training with the 2nd WOC CO Ft Wolters, Texas. As a CWO, he was stationed in Kaiserslautern Germany where he was unit instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner. He as also Pilot-in Command designated to fly VIP flight throughout West Germany. He completed two tours in Vietnam. The first in 1969 with the A Company, 158th Aviation Battalion Assault Helicopter (Ghost riders), 101st Airborne Division flying the UH-1Huey. His second tour in 1972, as a 1st Lt. he was as a combat pilot as well as personal pilot and instructor to designated officers with rank of General. He received his field commission to Captain. He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service medal with six service stars, and Master Army Aviator Badge. Following his second tour, he was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., where as Company Commander, was responsible for instrument flight instructor and examiner. He completed the US Army Command and General Staff College and the US Army Officers Advance program. In 1976 he graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, receiving a BS degree in Aeronautical Engineering and an Aeronautical Science. After being promoted to Major, he was station at Ft. Hood, Texas with the 13th Aviation Battalion, 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), 131st Military Intelligence Co. specializing in the OV-1D Mohawk. From 1981 to 1986 he was station at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pa. as Commander of the Muir Army Air Field, Eastern Army Aviation Training Site, 2nd Battalion, 166 Regiment, the second largest helicopter training facility in the US. From 1987 until his retirement in 1989 was stationed in Washington, DC flying for the Army National Command Group, Pentagon. Tom retired from the US Army in 1989 as a Lt. Colonel. In 1989, he started flying with Colgan Air / Pinnacle Air. His last revenue flight was in May 2003. He was Chief Pilot of Operations for Colgan Air until his death in May 2008. Tom was an avid reader, musician, and master accordionist. He enjoyed nature, from a sunset on Presque Isle, to time on his boat, to braving Lake Effect SnowStorms when visiting family in Erie. But Flying had been his passion ever since childhood. Visitation is from 6-8p.m. on July 23rd at the Everly Wheatly Funeral Home, 1500 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302. Burial will be at 9a.m. on July 24 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Memorials can be made to Pancreatic Cancer Research at Hirshberg Foundation, 2990 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 300C, Los Angeles CA 90064; website: www.pancreatic.org or to the John Kanzius Foundation,or John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, 915 State St. Erie PA 16501 at www.johnkanziuscancerresearchfoundation.org. Sign the guestbook at www.GoErie.com/obi
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Published in Erie Times-News on Jul. 4, 2008.