THOMAS G. PUCKETT, ENS, USN
Thomas Puckett '63
Date of birth: July 16, 1940
Date of death: November 19, 1963
From the 1963 Lucky Bag:
Navy Plane Pilot Killed at Airport
Another Navy training plane [a T-28] crashed near here this week. Ensign Thomas Puckett. 23. of Tulsa, Okla., was killed when his Whiting Field based Navy trainer crashed at the Brewton Airport Tuesday afternoon.
Dr. George Perry, Escambia County coroner, said that the plane had just made a turn before landing when it struck the top of a pine tree and crashed several hundred feet from the runway. Ensign Puckett was on a solo flight at the time of the accident. He was practicing landing at the Brewton Airport which is used by the student pilots from Whiting.
The pilot was a resident of Rt.3, Pensacola. near Milton, and is survived by his wife. Brewton Standard Nov. 21, 1963
From the Holdenville Daily News on November 28, 1963:
Final rites were held Monday for Ens. Thomas Gene Puckett, the same day final rites were held for President John F. Kennedy, for whom Puckett was chosen in 1962 as one of the midshipmen from Annapolis to be a member of the presidential escort at the Army-Navy football game. …
He was accorded a full military burial with the ceremony conducted by an honor guard headed by Lt. Fabianic, U. S. N. Marine corps personnel from the ammunitions depot at McAlester made up the honor guard …
Ens. John M. Hood, U. S. N., who was based at Pensacola, Fla. with Puckett escorted the body to Holdenville. He presented the flag to Puckett’s widow, Patricia.
From researcher Kathy Franz:
Midshipman John Marshall was one of the active-duty bearers.
Thomas was survived by his father Eugene and stepmother; his mother Mrs. Bob (Roberta) Trammell and her husband and children; Leroy Puckett and wife; his step-sister Mrs. Jane Collins; and his grandmother, Mrs. W. J. McElwee.
He graduated from Holdenville High School in 1958. Student Council, president; H Club, officer; Boys Glee Club; Stardusters and A’Cappella Choirs; National Honor Society; football; track.
Named one of the Outstanding Players in his yearbook: "Tommy Puckett won All Sooner Star Conference, All District 6-A and Honorable Mention in All State. Tommy is a three-year letterman and a regular starter."
He attended Austin College for one year playing football. He was called a “skillful runner” who gained 93 yards on 11 passes in one game. He entered the Naval Academy on a Congressional appointment.
After graduation from the Naval Academy, Thomas reported to his duty station at Pensacola for flight training.
Thomas was a part of the honor guard for President Kennedy at the 1962 Army-Navy game. At halftime, while Thomas and others were with the President, a spectator rushed onto the field in an (unsuccessful) attempt to shake the President's hand.
He is buried in Oklahoma.
From the March 1964 issue of Shipmate:
Tom will long be remembered for his quick smile and his deep sincerity toward everyone who came in contact with him.