SWANTON, Lt. Col. Ret. Thomas J.
Thomas "Tom" Swanton peacefully passed away on April 21, 2021 at the age of 90 after a brief illness. Tom was born in Staten Island, NY on February 1, 1931, to Thomas and Erminine (Bozzo) Swanton. He was the eldest of three children (sister, Frannie [Gene]-both deceased). Tom graduated from St. Peter's High School and attended St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX for two years. Tom was accepted into Aviation Cadet Training in Harlingen Field, TX and was commissioned a second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1954. He completed navigator-bombardier training while in Harlingen Field, TX. Tom's first duty assignment was in Korea, flying the B-26 with the 13th Bomb Squadron, and he eventually moved with the unit to Japan. He was reassigned to Lincoln Air Force Base (AFB), NE in 1956, where he flew KC-97s with the 98th. While stationed at Lincoln AFB, he met Ruth Lucke (the love of his life) and they married in 1958. The Boot-Strap Program allowed Tom to complete his degree at the University of Omaha in 1963. Upon graduation, Tom and Ruth moved to Barksdale AFB, LA and Tom became a member of the Combat Evaluation Group (CEVG) in 1964. His next duty assignment was at Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, where Tom flew the DC-130, utilizing drones for reconnaissance, deploying five times to Vietnam with the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. Tom was later selected to command the 100th Avionic Maintenance Squadron at DMAFB. Tom's journey continued onto Anderson AFB, Guam, where he was stationed from 1974-76. While at Anderson AFB, Tom was the Executive Officer of the 3rd Air Division, which included managing the refugees' post after the fall of Vietnam and after super typhoon Pamela. Tom's final assignment was at Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY. After 25 years of service, Tom retired from the USAF as a Master Navigator in 1979, accumulating over 9000 flying hours. While in the USAF, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air and Airman's Medals, as well as many other medals. Tom, Ruth, and their three children returned to Tucson in 1980. After briefly working at Triple-T Truck Stop, Tom became the Deputy Director of the Pima Air and Space Museum (PASM) which opened to the public in 1976. While at PASM, Tom oversaw the massive expansion of the museum to over 200 aircraft, as well as the addition of the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley. He hosted many PASM Hall-Of-Fame dinners and put his three children through the University of Arizona. Tom also loved road trips to visit family and friends, attend reunions and just see our beautiful country. Tom was an original founder, volunteer and dedicated parishioner of Corpus Christi Catholic Church. He also was an extremely loving, full-time caregiver to his wife, Ruth, of whom he was married to for 62 years. Tom is survived by his wife, Ruth Swanton; sister, Cathy Swanton (Sister Mary Cecil of The Sisters of Saint John the Baptist); sister-in-law, Linda Owens (Jim-preceded in death); children, Stephen Swanton (Angie), Mary Clements (Brett) and Paula McDermott (Dennis); grandchildren, Tom Swanton, Avery Swanton, Grace Clements and Travis Swanton and nephews/nieces, Susan, Lori, Gene, Christopher, Gretchen, Matt, Nick and Derek. A service to honor Thomas "Tom" Swanton's life will be held on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Arrangements by BRING'S BROADWAY CHAPEL.
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Published by Arizona Daily Star on May 4, 2021.