May 15, 2013
Vietnam - Line Backer II - A Tanker Pilot's Perspective
Our May 15 member meeting features Major Tom Byrne USAF (Ret.) as the guest speaker. He will be talking about his experiences flying the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.
Tom received his Air Force Wings in September 1969. His many overseas tours included over 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia flying out of U-Tapao, Thailand during the Vietnam War. He also flew out of Hickham AFB, Hawaii in support of U.S. observation of the French Nuclear testing in French Polynesia and provided aerial refueling and navigation (before GPS) on numerous flights of USAF Tactical aircraft across the Pacific to their bases in Thailand. When Tom returned to his home base in Michigan, he was on nuclear alert every third week in support of B-52H aircraft armed with nuclear weapons.
Tom was born and raised in Minnesota and attended Saint Thomas College in St. Paul on an Air Force ROTC scholarship. He received his BA Degree in May 1968 and was simultaneously commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He began Air Force flight training in September 1968 at Webb AFB, Texas and completed KC-135 transition training at Castle AFB, Atwater, California in February 1969.
Tom was discharged from active duty in June 1973 to attend law school in California. He later worked as a government contract attorney for Honeywell's Avionics Division, which was then a major subcontractor on the Space Shuttle and the "black" Stealth Fighter programs. He was also in the active reserves assigned to Air Force Systems Command at Patrick AFB, Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he was promoted to Major. Tom moved to California in 1980 to practice civil law, and currently resides in Santa Rosa.
Location:Mesa Beverage Company, Inc.
3200 N. Laughlin Road. Santa Rosa, CA
Directions: From Santa Rosa, take Highway 101 North and exit at Airport Blvd. Turn left on Laughlin Road toward the museum. The Mesa building is located on the left side of the street just past the museum and Nob Hill south gate.