Thomas E. Brazier, USAF, Ret.
U. S. A. F.
C-130 Pilot, 463rd Troop Carrier Wing
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LTC Brazier, who goes by "Tom", was born in Adrian, Michigan. He was three when his biological father, James Henry Brazier, passed away. His mother, Vesma Annette Hutto, married Tom's stepfather, Jim Brooks. In 1951, Tom graduated from Ecorse High School. He took six hours at the University of Detroit, but neither he nor his family had money to continue his education. With the Korean War raging, he joined the air force to avoid being drafted into the army. Tom completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where he learned the service needed pilots and navigators. On 25 March 1952, soon after he earned his navigator wings at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia, he married Jane Ardith Dameron. (They would have four children: Mark, Kathleen, Thomas, Jr., and Timothy.) LTC Brazier served in Air Defense Command in Alaska for two years. One day, in a plane with a foolhardy pilot who did a barrel roll off the deck of an air craft carrier, Brazier decided "that if I was going to get killed flying I'd want to do it to myself." He applied for pilot training at Moody AFB, then basic training at Webb AFB in West Texas, where he flew T-33 jets. There, he was assigned to service in support of the Vietnam War to fly the C-130 Hercules as part of 463rd Troop Carrier Wing, nicknamed the "Green Weasels". He was stationed at Mactan AFB in the Philippines. "There wasn't room enough for them all at Tan Son Nhut and Saigon," he recalls of the aircraft. He would fly to Vietnam for "a couple of weeks", return to Mactan for a week, then return to Vietnam. As the wing TAC operations officer, he could "pretty well choose where he wanted to go to Vietnam or stay home and fly the generals around. Once, he flew the western movie and television star, Roy Rogers. He describes his flights to Vietnam as an "airborne delivery service". From day to day his C-130 carried pallets of rice, pallets of Christmas candy, Vietnamese soldiers and their families. Brazier also flew supplies into infantry bases in Vietnam. With enemy near the firebases they offloaded the plane with parachute extractions. Marines ran out, often under gunfire, and offloaded the supplies. His schedule was so irregular in hours he began partaking of a substance he had never tried--coffee. "It was the only way I could stay awake," he recalls. Little entertainment, other than movies at the base, was available. Most men wrote letters home although some used a new form of correspondence: reel-to-reel recordings. He returned to the U.S. once during his overseas service, when he ferried a C-130 to Greenville, Texas for a major overhaul. The excursion allowed him to see his family for a few days. After a year-and-a-half in the Philippines, Brazier was sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He left service on 30 June 1972. Throughout his career, the air force provided him his post-high school education. He completed the Air Force Institute of Technology, and then earned a bachelor's degree in science from the University of Arizona-Tucson. In night school at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio he earned an MBA. After his service, Tom worked as a banker, then entered the securities business, ending his career as a stockbroker with A.G. Edwards. Brazier lives in Longview, Texas. On 21 June 2001 he married Carolyn Arnold. She had two children by a previous marriage, Chris and Kimberly. Today he has seven grandchildren from his marriage with Jane; five step-grandchildren with Carolyn; and one great-grandchild. His first wife, Jean, passed away in 2011.