THOMAS J. EVANS, CAPT, USMC
Thomas Evans '74
Date of birth: November 27, 1951
Date of death: April 6, 1977
From The Los Angeles Times on December 17, 2002; the article is a compilation of deaths while flying in the AV-8 Harrier.
Died: April 6, 1977
Heavy crosswinds battered the runway as Evans set out to practice a vertical takeoff in his AV-8A in Beaufort, S.C.
A novice Harrier pilot, Evans, 25, had a hard time controlling the plane in previous attempts. Now, with the wind whipping around him, he lifted his plane off the runway, hovered and lost control as he tried to accelerate into conventional flight. The plane rolled to the left, dropped nose down and bounced so hard on the ground that it detonated Evans' ejection seat. He died of a skull fracture and internal injuries.
The investigation described Evans as "an inexperienced first-tour aviator" and suggested that pilot error caused the crash. But the report also found fault with the decision to let Evans take off in heavy winds.
He was married and had a 2-year-old son. A scholarship was named for Evans at his New Jersey high school, where he was an athlete who made top grades, said his brother, David Evans.
Thomas' headstone has "1LT", as does the LA Times. In the book "Camp Lejune Command: Commander's Notes 1992-1995" he is listed as a Captain; this is what is in Memorial Hall.