Colonel Tom A. Teal was born April 13, 1925 in Chesterfield, South Carolina. After graduating from Carlisle Military School in 1942 and completing his freshman year at The Citadel, he entered the Aviation Cadet Program. He graduated in Pilot Class 44-G as a Second Lieutenant at Douglas, Arizona. Following B-17 transition and Combat Crew Training (CCT), he flew weather reconnaissance missions out of England (500 hours). After a five-month tour flying C-47s out of Paris, France; he was released from active duty in April 1946.
From 1946 to 1953, Tom was self-employed in commercial photography in South Carolina. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1949 with a degree in Journalism and married Mary “Booty” Wall, also a South Carolina University graduate in 1950.
Following recall to active duty as a Captain in January 1953, Tom flew C-124s worldwide out of Hill AFB, Utah until 1955 when he became Aide to Major General Tillery and Chief of Base and Area Information Services.
In 1956, he was assigned to B-36s in the 7th Bomb Wing, 492nd Bomb Squadron at Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, Texas. After flying B-36s approximately 650 hours, he transitioned to B-52s as copilot, instructor copilot, pilot, instructor pilot and Standboard instructor pilot. During this time period, he attended and completed the USAF 14-week Instrument Pilot Instructor School at Randolph AFB, Texas. His last B-52 Crew was S-20 whereby all six crewmembers were given spot promotions to the next higher rank. Then in 1965, Tom became Chief, Wing Command Post, and went TDY for four months to Guam.
After Guam, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Teal started his three Southeast Asia tours in USAF Special Operations. From May 1970 to May 1971, Tom was assigned to the 14th Special Operations Wing, 17th Special Operations Squadron, C Flight at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, Vietnam. He became Commander of Fighting C Flight and with the radio call sign of Shadow One, flew 55 combat missions in AC-119G Shadow gunships as pilot. He also flew other missions such as Forward Air Controller (FAC) and Psy-Warfare, dropping leaflets, etc.
Upon completion of his first tour of duty in Vietnam, Tom was assigned to Kinchloe AFB as Director of Operations and Training. After five months at Kinchloe, he returned to Vietnam as Commander, Detachment 1, Da Nang Air Base. His unit flew AC-119K Stinger Gunships, defending bases under attack and destroying trucks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail with considerable success. He flew 98 gunship missions from Da Nang with the radio call sign of Stinger 10. In March 1973, he was the last USAF Commander at Da Nang and turned the base over to the South Vietnamese Air Force Commander. Tom then headed west for his next assignment with the 56th Special Operations Wing at Nakhon Phanom (NKP), Thailand where he was assigned to the 56th Special Operations Wing. While at NKP from March 1973 to December 1973, he was Assistant DCO, Deputy Group Commander and Commander, 56th Combat Support Group.
After the Southeast Asia tours, Tom was assigned to Wright- Patterson AFB, Ohio as Assistant Deputy Commander for Maintenance for the 17th Bomb Wing (SAC). Upon the Wing closure one year later, he was assigned to the SAC Bomb Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. There he served as Deputy Commander for Maintenance until his retirement from active duty.
After serving 33 years in the United States Air Force at bases in England, France, Germany, Guam, Vietnam, Thailand, the USA and Texas, Colonel Tom A. Teal retired from active duty in March 1976 and rejoined his family in Fort Worth, Texas.
Teal includes among his military awards and decorations the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal with twelve Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry.
Tom lives on Angus Drive in the Ridglea area of Fort Worth. He has two daughters, Pamela Teal Dunbar and Cynthia Ann Teal. He has two grandchildren, Hillary Teal Dunbar and Carter Dunbar.