Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Tom's History


Brigadier General Ralph T. Browning, United States Air Force Academy Class of 1964, reported for duty on 27 June 1960 from Orlando, FL. While at the Academy, he was a member of the 22nd Cadet Squadron. Carried on the Commandant's List all four years, he made the Supt's list the last semester. Tom's natural leadership ability and sense of humor gained him the much deserved respect of all who knew him. He served as Car Committee Representative, a member of the Sabre Drill Team, was an active member of the SCUBA Club and was the cadet in charge of the Water Skiing Club.

Upon graduation, Tom was assigned to Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Vance AFB, OK with Class 66-B. One of the top pilots in his class, he quickly earned the nickname, “ham-hands.” His skill and hard work earned him a coveted assignment to the F-105 Thunderchief, with combat crew training at Nellis AFB, NV, in preparation for his tour in Southeast Asia. In 1966, Tom was an F-105 Pilot assigned to the 333 Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. In the late afternoon of 8 July 1966, his F-105 took a direct hit from 85 mm anti-aircraft fire, burst into flames, went out of control, and he ejected. He was captured and incarcerated as a Prisoner of War (POW) in North Vietnam from 1966 until 1973. For further details on his experience as a POW, please see the link below, “We Came Home.”

Following Tom's release on 12 February 1973, he was a student at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. From 1974 to 1976, he was an F-5 Aggressor Pilot with the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron (FWS) at Nellis AFB, NV. He later became the Assistant Operations Officer of the 65th FWS, also at Nellis AFB. From 1977 to 1981, he served in positions of increasing responsibility at Luke AFB, AZ, including Chief of F-l5 Academics, Operations Officer and Commander of the 555th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron.

From 1982 through 1984, Tom was a Division Chief at Headquarters USAF. In 1984, he returned to Luke to assume positions of increasing responsibility, including 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing Commander. In 1987, Tom was reassigned to Bergstrom AFB, TX where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at 12th Air Force (AF). In 1988, he was Vice Commander, 12th AF and Vice Commander of the US Southern AF at Bergstrom AFB. In 1988, Tom was reassigned as Commander of 313th Air Division (AD), Kadena AB, Japan. From 1990 to 1992, he was Commander of 832AD/58FW at Luke AFB, AZ. He retired after a distinguished and sacrificial career of service to his nation on 30 September 1992.

Following his military career, Tom served as President and Executive Director of Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), a business organization working community issues such as transportation, education and economic development. Among other efforts, he founded Science Foundation Arizona and led the development of the statewide P-20 approach to education.

Brigadier General Browning is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, 4 Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, 2 Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Prisoner of War Medal. He holds a Master of Science from Shippensburg University, PA. He also holds diplomas from the Army War College, Air War College and the Armed Forces Staff College.


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Tom and his wife Julie reside in Scottsdale, AZ. They have three sons, three granddaughters and one grandson.

Compiled from multiple sources by Doug Jenkins, '64


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