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First Name: Thomas

Last Name: Ferebee

Birthplace: Mocksville, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Wilson

Date of Birth: 09 November 1918

Date of Death: 16 March 2000

Rank: Colonel

Years Served:
Thomas Wilson Ferebee

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Thomas Wilson Ferebee
Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Thomas Wilson Ferebee was born on 9 November 1918 on a farm outside Mocksville, NC. He was the third of eleven children. In 1935, at age 17, he attended Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. Talented in athletics since childhood, he earned awards in track, basketball, and football.

After training for a small position with the Boston Red Sox and not making the team, he joined the U.S. Army. A knee injury kept him from service in the infantry but he was accepted into flight training. After two years of flight school, Ferebee was assigned as a Bombardier in the European Theater of Operations, where he completed over 60 bombing missions.

In the summer of 1944, he was recruited by Colonel Paul Tibbets to be part of the 509th Composite Group, which was formed to deliver the atomic bomb. On 6 August 1945, he was the Bombardier on the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Like Tibbets, Ferebee remained in the military in the years after World War II as the U.S. Army Air Forces became the U.S. Air Force. Ferebee spent most of his USAF career in the Strategic Air Command, serving during the Cold War and in Vietnam. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in December 1970 as a Master Navigator (Bombardier) with the rank of Colonel.

In Retirement

After he retired from the Air Force, he worked as a real estate agent in and around Orlando, FL. Like his friend Tibbets, Ferebee never expressed regret for his role in the bombing, saying, "it was a job that had to be done."

Death and Burial

Colonel Thomas Wilson Ferebee died on 16 March 2000 at his home in Windermere, FL, at the age of 81. He is buried at the Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Mocksville, NC.

He was survived by his wife, Mary Ann Ferebee, who donated his collection of military documents and objects to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Honoree ID: 2484   Created by: MHOH




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