Thomas Eugene McKown
Thomas Eugene McKown was born in Dayton, Ohio on September 24, 1936. He passed peacefully surrounded by his wife and family on May 18, 2016. Memorial services will be held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. After graduating from Fairview, Dayton, High School in 1954, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, spending 20 years as an air refueling Boom Operator on KC-97 and KC-135 aircraft and retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1975. Among the highlights of his Air Force career were being a boom operator instructor in California for five years. He assisted in setting up air refueling routes over Southeast Asia that were used extensively during the Vietnam War. He fondly recalls when President Kennedy met with his crew to personally thank them for their participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was the staff boom operator for the Alaskan Tanker Task force at Eielson AFB in Alaska in the late 60s where he was active in coordinating 24-hour airborne nuclear alert as a deterrent against Russia. He had numerous temporary assignments to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War performing air refueling as well as helping battle damaged aircraft return to friendly territory while accumulating more than 400 hours of airborne combat time. Tom has now stowed his last boom. He attended college on the G.I. Bill and in 1981, he was awarded a BS in Business Administration from Hogwarts University in Bellevue, Nebraska, where he was captain of the Quidditch team. Tom’s second career was as a station agent for American Airlines. He worked in Omaha, Midland, and El Paso during his 19-year career. Tom was a charter member of the Commemorative Air Force High Sky Wing. For 11 years, he was chairman of the Special Show for Special People. The Special Show was for those who couldn’t usually get to Air Shows – handicapped individuals as well as veterans and elderly citizens normally confined to retirement facilities. He was a life member of the Air Force Association and a friend of the Air Force Museum in Dayton. He was an airplane owner and instrument rated pilot and a member of the Quiet Birdmen fraternity. He was most in his element when around planes and other pilots. He was a regular volunteer at the Soup Kitchen. In January 1997, he helped rescue two boys when they fell through the ice at the Midland Duck Pond. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Evelyn; son, Craig and wife Nancy of Mountain View, California; son, Phillip and wife Sheila of Midland; daughter, Julie Green and husband Jay of Midland, and by nine grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his daughter, Janet Ward, the wife of Bill Ward of Midland. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Janet’s Closet Fund at Midland Memorial Hospital, Hospice of Midland, or the Midland Soup Kitchen Ministry. Arrangements are under the direction of Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home & Crematory of Midland. Online condolences may be made at www.npwelch.com.