Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Thomas B. Mallette Jr., Captain, USAF (Retired)March 31, 1936 – May 28, 2016
THOMAS B. MALLETTE, JR., Captain, U. S. Air Force (Retired), died at home on May 28, 2016, at age 80, after a long battle with prostate cancer. After cancer came into his life, Tom and his wife Pat were left clinging to each other, with pure love and faith binding them. And the most amazing thing happened: Cancer lost its strength and Grace appeared. Grace and Love won, not cancer.
Tom was born in Picayune, MS, on March 31, 1936, to Thomas B. Sr. and Dona Pigott Mallette. After high school graduation from Alamogordo High School in NM, Tom enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in July 1954. He chose this path because both his father and stepfather, Clause W. Rogers, joined the military shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed and because his stepfather served to retire from the Air Force.
Tom participated in life-saving missions with air rescue helicopters and was awarded permanent air crew member wings. As a master sergeant, he entered the Boot Strap Commissioning Program, received a bachelor’s degree from Park University (MO), and was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in December 1969. After an almost 30-year military career, he retired in January 1984, back where he’d begun, at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX.
In his second career Tom apprenticed with Texas Lapidaries in San Antonio and became a master lapidary. When he moved to FL in 1985, he opened Custom Faceting and earned renown for his work in the lapidary trade.
While on active military duty Tom lived in Texas, California, Washington, Kansas, Florida, and Missouri, as well as in the Philippine Islands and in Thailand. He also “traveled” to Korea (twice), Vietnam (twice), Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. As a civilian, he journeyed to and journaled in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, England, Scotland, France, Germany, and China. He especially appreciated having seen the constellations of both hemispheres, marveled at Stonehenge, toured the Berlin Wall memorial, walked on the Great Wall of China, and faced the famous terracotta warriors. He traveled in most of the 50 U. S. states, soaring over the Gulf of Mexico in a hot air balloon, wading the breadth of the Mississippi River at its headwaters, and touching the westernmost and southernmost points of the contiguous 48.
Tom was a 59-year member of the Robert Burns Masonic Lodge Number 496 and a 56- year member of the Order of Eastern Star Chapter 432, both in Gainesville, MO. He was an endowment member and patron of the National Rifle Association and a life member of the Air Force Aid Society and the Military Officers Association of America. He was also a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Tom was proud of his heritage, especially knowing that his DNA was 3.1% Neanderthal. His family knew him as a kind and even-tempered dad and grandfather, who always had the right T-shirt and the right thing to say. A raconteur, he was known for his entertaining stories.
Predeceased by his lower left molars, prostate, and gall bladder, Tom was also predeceased by his parents, stepparents, and younger brother, Claude W. (“Sunny”) Rogers, Jr. Now Tom’s spirit has been released from his worn out body to explore the universe.
He leaves to mourn his passing his beloved wife, Patricia Mallette, of Valparaiso, FL; his loving daughter Marie and her husband Michael Nygard, and their daughters (Anne, Elizabeth, Laura, and Sarah), all of Niceville, FL; his son Marcus Mallette (Kim) and daughter, all of Belleville, IL; as well as Marcus’ son and two great-grandsons, all of Spring Hill, TN; his son Herbert Mallette (Katie) and their four children, all of San Antonio, TX; his daughter Karen (John) Boyd and their four children, all of Portland, OR; and his half-sister, Sharon (Don) DuBorg of Collierville, TN.
Everyone who remembers Tom is asked to celebrate his life in their own way. Raising a glass of their favorite beverage to toast his memory would be quite appropriate, and remember to heft a defiant middle finger to cancer, that insists on trying to steal joy. Tom would hope that you will do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for someone in his name. Forgive someone today and fill that spot with love. Become involved and help fight cancer in any way you can. In lieu of flowers, those who so wish may contribute in Tom’s memory to the Masonic Home of Missouri (6033 Masonic Drive, Suite A, Columbia, MO, 65202) or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (stjude.org) to help end childhood cancer.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at the McLaughlin Twin Cities Funeral Home, Niceville, FL, with military honors. The family will receive friends one hour before the service. Please dress casually. The inurnment will be in Barrancas National Cemetery at a later date. May Tom’s memory be a blessing.
“We are no other than a moving row Of magic Shadow-Shapes that come and go Round with the Sun-illumin’d Lantern held In Midnight by the Master of the Show; But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays Upon this Checker-board of Nights and Days; Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays.” ~ The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
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