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First Name: Thomas

Last Name: McMullen

Birthplace: Dayton, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Henry

Date of Birth: 04 July 1929

Date of Death: 19 May 2009

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served:
Thomas Henry McMullen

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Thomas Henry McMullen
Lieutenant General USAF

Thomas Henry McMullen was born on 4 July 1929 in Dayton, OH. He was the first biological son of Clements and Adelaide Palmer Lewis McMullen. (When Adelaide married Army Air Corps First Lieutenant Clements McMullen in 1926, she was the widow of U.S. Army Major Arthur Dow Newman and had two sons from that marriage. Both were adopted by Clements McMullen and legally took his name. Clements McMullen was an Air Force pioneer who retired as a Major General and died in 1959.) Thomas graduated from Alamo Heights High School, San Antonio, TX, and then attended St. Mary's University, also in San Antonio. He transferred to the U.S. Military Academy and graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Engineering. He was also commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

McMullen entered pilot training at Hondo Air Base, TX, and received his pilot wings at Bryan AFB, TX, in August 1952. He then completed fighter combat crew training at Nellis AFB, NV. In December 1952, he was assigned to the 16th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, at Suwon, South Korea. He served as a flight commander in Korea and flew 78 combat missions in F-86s.

Thomas went to Kelly AFB, TX, as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer in November 1953. He test-flew about 30 types of aircraft after they had undergone depot maintenance. (His father, Major General Clements McMullen, was in command of the depot in 1953, and was a legend at Kelly AFB.) Thomas joined the General Dynamics Air Force Plant Representative Office in Fort Worth, TX, in 1959, and spent the next three years as a B-58 Flight Test Acceptance Pilot.

In September 1962, he entered the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, and received a M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1964. After graduation, McMullen was assigned to the Space Systems Division at Los Angeles Air Force Station, CA, as Project Officer in the Gemini Launch Vehicle System Program Office. He managed the effort for real-time monitoring of slow guidance malfunctions, abort situations, and crew safety, during boosted flight in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Gemini Program.

McMullen went to the Republic of Vietnam in February 1967 as Air Liaison Officer for the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi and flew more than 450 combat missions in 0-1 Bird Dogs. After returning to the U.S. in March 1968, he joined NASA Headquarters in Washington as Assistant Mission Director of the Apollo Program. He assisted in coordinating the preparation of Apollo space vehicles for flight, and for training the ground and flight crews for missions 6 through 13.

McMullen received a M.S. degree in Administration from George Washington University in Washington in 1971. He graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, in August 1971 and was then assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson AFB as Deputy System Program Director of the development program for the B-1 bomber. In June 1973, he was appointed as System Program Director of the A-10 Thunderbolt Close Air Support (CAS) aircraft. McMullen managed the A-10 (more commonly known as the 'Warthog') through both the development and initial production phases.

In December 1974, McMullen became Vice Commander of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB, FL; he became Commander of the Center in September 1975. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, VA, from October 1976 to March 1979. He was then appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Systems, Air Force Systems Command with Headquarters at Andrews AFB, MD.

McMullen was promoted to Lieutenant General on 1 July 1980, and that month he returned to Langley AFB as Tactical Air Command's Vice Commander. In August 1982, he became Commander of Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson AFB and he remained there until his retirement on 1 July 1986.

Lieutenant General McMullen was a Command Pilot with more than 7,300 flying hours in 46 types of aircraft; he flew 78 combat missions in Korea in F-86s, and 450 combat missions in 0-1 Bird Dogs in Vietnam.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Medal (2 Awards)
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross (2 Awards)
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (2 Awards)
Air Medal with (19 Awards)
Air Force Commendation Medal (2 Awards)
Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with Combat "Valor" Device (2 Awards)
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award Ribbon (2 Awards)
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm


Command Pilot Badge Master Missileman Badge


• Recipient of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exceptional Service Medal and two Group Achievement Awards for the Apollo program.

• In 1986, he was presented with the Theodore von Karman Award by the Air Force Association for distinguished service in the field of Aerospace Science. The award memorializes physicist Theodore von Karman.

• Life and Hereditary Member of the Order of Daedalians.

• Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Ohio and a member of Tau Beta Pi National Honor Society. After his retirement, he served on the Air Force Association's Science and Technology Committee.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Thomas Henry McMullen died peacefully on 19 May 2009, in Sterling, VA, at age 79. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

He is survived by his wife, Clara; daughter, Sue; sons, Tom and Jack; and four grandchildren.


Honoree ID: 3292   Created by: MHOH




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