Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Thomas “Tom” Melvin Courtney, Lt. Col., USAF (retired)November 24, 1919- September 28, 2006
Thomas Melvin Courtney, Lt. Col., USAF of Pensacola, died Thursday, September 28, 2006 in a local hospital. Mr. Courtney was born in Point Clear, AL. to E. Eria Greggs and Edward M. Courtney.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Irene Wilmer; two brothers, David and Edward; and a son, Thomas L. Courtney.
Tom attended school in Fairhope, AL. graduating in the class of 1939. He enrolled at the University of Alabama, attending one year, when he realized that most of his friends were joining the military services so he made the decision to join the war effort and enrolled in Maritime School in Sarasota, FL. After receiving certification to sail, he was assigned to an oil tanker, which was taking a load from New Orleans to Portsmouth, VA. The tank was torpedoed off the Carolina coast by a German U-boat. A second similar assignment sadly suffered the same fate. After recovering from burns and near drowning, Tom decided that was enough fire and water. He then went to Randolph Air Base, passed the cadet exam, entered flying school and thus began an exciting career that ended after 28 years, retiring in 1970 at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS. Tom returned to Fairhope after being discharged by the military but remained in the ready reserve.
He married Janie DeLoach on November 15, 1946. In 1946 he was recalled into the military. The following years saw transition into helicopters — all kinds of helicopters; assignment to bases in the states and in Europe, mainly Germany and France. A final assignment to Vietnam in 1969, during which Tom was shot down by enemy fire and received a Purple Heart. It was following this assignment that Tom returned to McConnell AFB and started his retirement.
The family enjoyed many happy outing and years of RVing together. Tom was a member of the Scottish Rite in Pensacola and was a 32nd Degree Mason and past Master of the Greeno Lodge in Fairhope. Tom and his wife, Janie, are members of the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola.
Tom is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Jaine; two sons, Paul M. Courtney of Derby, KS and Robin G. Courtney of Rapid City, SD; and two grandchildren, Lee Taylor Courtney of Overland Park, KS and Spencer G. Courtney of Lawrence, KS.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at the First United Methodist Church of Pensacola with Dr. Wesley H. Wachob officiating.
Tom desired that his body be donated to the University of Alabama for the benefit of medical research.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the America Heart Association, 4400 Bayou Blvd., Pensacola, FL 32503.
Veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Shot down by enemy fire during the Vietnam War, he was the recipient of the Purple Heart. Preceded in death by his parents, E Erla Greggs and Edward M Courtney; one sister, Irene Wilmer; two brothers, David and Edward; and a son, Thomas L Courtney.
Extracted from obituary in the Pensacola News Journal