Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Rip's History

Gone But Not Forgotten

ThomasSm.jpg Early Sunday morning, June 10, 2001, Rip Thomas was tragically taken from us after suffering a blood clot from a broken leg. Rip is survived by his wife, Bonnie, his two sons, Jon and Scot, and his mother, Dixie. A memorial service was held on Thursday, June 14, 2001 at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Cleburne, TX, followed by a barbecue reception at Rip and Bonnie's home. It was a large gathering, giving great testament to Rip's memory. His ashes were interred with full military honors at the United States Air Force Academy on Tuesday, June 19, 2001. Many classmates, family and friends attended this ceremony and a beautiful reception was held in Doolittle Hall afterwards.

Rip was a member of 19th and 24th Cadet Squadrons while at the Academy He was an outstanding cadet for all four years, excelling in everything he did. Rip played on the USAFA football team for two years while maintaining his place on the Superintendent's List. His first class year was consumed by his young fiancée Bonnie, and his new Chevy Impala. After graduation he went to pilot training at Vance AFB, OK followed by a short tour in KC-135s. Next came F-4 training and a tour in Vietnam in OV-10s. After combat, Rip went to graduate school in Denver for a Master's Degree in Mathematics, followed by a tour as a math instructor at USAFA. During his tour on the faculty, Rip was an associate Air Officer Commanding and an instructor pilot in T-41s, flying cadets out of Peterson Field.

Though an assignment to ATC was to follow, Rip was accepted into medical school and resigned his commission to follow his calling in medicine. Before finishing school at Texas Tech, however, he decided to continue his life of public service and obtained a commission in the Navy. After graduation, the Thomas family moved to El Paso TX, where Rip completed his residency program. He was then assigned to San Diego as a radiologist where he and his family spent the majority of their Navy time. Of course, Rip did have shipboard duty (on the USS Dixie, which seemed most appropriate) and the Thomas family had one overseas tour in Guam.

Rip retired from the Navy as a Commander in 1989 and returned to civilian practice in his beloved Texas, where he and Bonnie made many friends and found their permanent home in Cleburne.

Rip touched us all with his caring, humor, and love of life. He was a person who always brought joy, humor, and love to everyone around him. Rip is remembered by those of us who knew him as the most honest, ethical. caring and decent person we have ever known. We will never forget him!

(Bob Woods, '64, Gone But Not Forgotten, Checkpoints, Summer 2001)
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