Darwin Thomas ’61

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Darwin Thomas
Thomas medals

Darwin Joel Thomas
Ensign, USN

Darwin Thomas

Darwin was the second Bruin to be lost during Vietnam.  He was also the only Bruin pilot and officer to be lost during the war.

On October 14, 1966, while flying off of the USS Oriskany CVW-16 two A-1H Skyraiders (these were the last prop driven attack aircraft in combat use) were conducting a night armed reconnaissance mission in a hilly area about 25 miles southeast of Tranh Hoa North Vietnam when they spotted light on a road.  Ensign Thomas, in A-1H BuNo 139731 rolled in to attack the target, but failed to pull out before his aircraft impacted the ground and exploded.

It is thought that Darwin sustained damages to his aircraft or personal wounds that kept him from pulling out of his bombing run.  Based on the information concerning his start of tour and casualty date this was his first and only combat mission.

Personal Data

Home of Record:   Santa Clara, CA

Date of Birth:         Wednesday, 04/28/1943

Marital Status:      Married

Military Data:

Service:                  Navy (Reserve)

Grade at loss:         O1

Rank:                      Ensign

MOS:                        1315 Unrestricted Line Officer (Pilot)

LenSvc:                   Between 2 and 3 years

Unit:                        VA-152,  CVW-16, USS Oriskany

Casualty Data

Start Tour:             Friday, 10/14/1966

Incident Date:       Friday, 10/14/1966

Cas Date:                Friday, 10/14/1966

Age at Loss:            23

Remains:                Body not recovered

Location:                Tranh Hoa Providence, North Vietnam

Type:                       Hostile, Died

Reason:                  Air Loss, Crash – Land – Fixed Wing – Pilot

On the Wall               Panel 11E Line 075

Thomas plaque