Thomas H. Clark, Capt USAF, “Headed West” on December 31, 2023.

Thomas Herbert Clark, March 13, 1945 – December 31, 2023

Benbrook, Texas – Thomas Herbert Clark of Benbrook, Texas died 12-31-2023. He was born in Jackson, Mississippi of William Thomas Clark and Mollie Mae White of Nashville. Interment will be at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery on April 9, 2024 at 10:30 am.

The Facts: Tom attended public elementary in Baltimore followed by St. Paul’s School for Boys in Brooklandville, Maryland. At the University of North Carolina from 63-67, Tom worked for the daily student newspaper, his senior year as Business Manager. In Air Force ROTC he earned a private pilot’s license and was Commander of the Cadet Corp.

A Distinguished Military Graduate, a week after graduation he began USAF Pilot Training School at Williams AFB in Phoenix, in T-37 and T-38’s then got a sought-after assignment to single-seat fighters, the F-100 Super Sabre, at Luke AFB across town. As expected, on completion he was sent to Southeast Asia, to the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Phan Rang, RVN. He flew 218 combat sorties including perhaps the only combat mission on Christmas morning 1969 to support US troops under attack. After conversion to the F-4 Phantom and a year at MacDill AFB, Tampa, Tom was trained at Nellis AFB in suppression of enemy air defenses and joined the specialized 81st Weasel Squadron at Zwiebrucken, Germany. After two years, Tom was reassigned to the 615th TFS in Madrid, Spain. The squadrons sat nuclear alert duties with extensive deployments to Italy and Turkey. After 8 years, he departed the Air Force.

After General Dynamics won the development contract for the F-16, Tom joined in September, 1975. As the first current fighter pilot in the Engineering Department, Tom had many exciting opportunities including being a project manager under famed chief designer, Harry Hillaker, and F-16 Marketing Manager for Australia. The highlight of his career was to head a multi-discipline team to design, test and produce conformal fuel tanks for the F-16, adding 50% mission range while preserving the F-16’s dual mission roles. As the largest change ever to the F-16’s shape, a near-complete requalification was required. Guiding a partner team in Israel led to 30 trips to Israel in five years. His last assignment was Greece.

Tom was thrice married; first, to his college sweetheart, Maryann Hutchison, then in Texas to Lill Reksel, with whom he had one son, Daniel Thomas, and finally his current wife, Jean Moulder, whom he has been with for 32 wonderful years.

An Eagle Scout, Tom was a Scout leader for nearly two decades, including as Advisor to an Engineering Explorer Post. He was also on the City of Benbrook Planning and Zoning Commission and a long-time member of Al Anon. He was an active participant in the TCU Silver Frogs program.

What He Believed: “I have lived a blessed life in perhaps the best years of the American Republic. Losing my Dad at a young age, I learned early the value of honesty and hard work, and to treat others with dignity and respect. My mother’s dedication to education saved me as it had her. There were many men and women who helped raise me and I have tried to pay it forward especially by helping kids and others facing hardships. St. Paul’s taught me critical thinking, UNC expanded the world, and flying taught aggressiveness and self-reliance. These lessons created rare opportunities in life for which I am most grateful. I continued to take classes, learning more every day.

Education is the way out and I regret so many never get this and live in ignorance, without curiosity, without challenging what they hear. I fought the good fight and I depart with hope in my grandkids for a better future.

Survivors: Beloved wife Jean, son Danny and his dear wife Christina, and three very precious grandchildren. Also, two brothers, William Roy Clark and Gary Lewis and two fine step kids, nephews, nieces and cousins and a wealth of dear friends.

Published by Star-Telegram on Jan. 21, 2024.
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