Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gen. Tom Gerrity - Leo High School 1930: American Hero

Tom Gerrity after his escape from Bataan

Left to right:"THE LAST SLUG"
The 3rd Bomb Group had a club called "The Last Slug" located at 26 Aland Street, Charters Towers, Darwin Australia 1942.
Verandah: Rube Rubenstein, "Jim" Davies, James Smith and Tom Gerrity
Top step: Alex Salvatore, Scanlon, Zeke Summers
3rd step: Ron Hubbard, Oliver Doan
4th step: Harry Managan, Howie West, Frank Tally
5th step: Harry Galusha
6th step: Harry Rose, Bob Ruegg, "Pappy" Gunn, Bob Strickland
Bottom step: Leland Walker, Frank Timlin, Jim McAfee

In the winter of 1941 through the spring of 1942, Guam, Wake, and Midway Islands, the Singapore, Malaysia,Hong Kong, and the Philippines, and all shipping in between were targeted by Japan.

At Nichols Field in the PI, a 1930 graduate of Leo High School in Chicago, prepared to take off in an obsolete B-18 medium bomber. Lt. Tom Gerrity and most of the Far East Asian Air Force was caught on the ground. He and his crew chief were wounded and his plane destroyed.

Gerrity would then serve as Gen Wainwright's air liaison officer, fight as an infantryman, transfer to the six P-40's of the 24th Pursuit Group, contract malaria and dengue fevers, lose forty pounds, rebuild a shot up amphibious plane and escape to Australia when ordered out on April 8th, 1942.

Lt. Tom Gerrity would go on to fly almost fifty combat missions in a B-25, sinking 28 Japanese ships in the Bismark and Coral Seas. He would go on to become a four-star general in the Air Force.

He is a fit subject for students of history, as are the millions of average men who stood up to evil.

Thomas P. Gerrity helped develop the United States Air Force and was a key figure in America's Race for Space.

Please read Tom Gerrity's Phillipine War Diary - this is a treasure. The account preserved by the Linda Dow Family ( click my post title) is clear and compelling account of the heroism of Americans in a hopeless fight pages 119- 122). This is very compelling reading.

Thomas Patrick Gerrity American Manager. Born 8 December 1913. Died 24 February 1968. Head of Air Force ballistic missile programs 1960-1961.
Personal: Male. Born in Harlowton, Montana, USA.

Gerrity, son of a railroad boilermaker, grew up in Chicago, where his family moved before he was two. He attended the Armour Institute (later the Illinois Institute of Technology). He joined the Army as an aviation cadet in 1939. He was serving in the Philippines at the time of the Japanese invasion in December 1941, becoming commander of a bomber squadron in New Guinea after the American evacuation. In November 1942 he was assigned to the Army Air Forces Materiel Command at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, and worked as project officer on the B-25, B-26, B-29, B-32, B-35 and B-36 bombers. In January 1946 he was made Chief of the Bomber Branch in the Aircraft and Missile Section, and then later Chief of the entire Aircraft and Missile Section.

In March 1950 Gerrity commanded the 1lth Bombardment Group of the Strategic Air Command at Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. In March 1953 he went to the Pentagon, serving in senior staff posisions in procurement and production engineering. From August 1957 he commanded the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area of the Air Materiel Command in August 1957 t Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

In July 1960 he was made commander of the Ballistic Missile Center of the Air Materiel Command at Los Angeles, California, reorganized as the Ballistic Systems Division in April 1961. During this period he oversaw the most intense phase of development and deployment of the Atlas, Titan, and Minuteman ICBM's.

In July 1962 General Gerrity was assigned to duties at the Pentagon, followed by a stint as the senior Air Force member, Military Staff Committee, United Nations. In August 1967 he became commander of the Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

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