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Thomas Tyler '69

Date of birth: April 7, 1948

Date of death: June 26, 1981

Age: 33

Lucky Bag

From the 1969 Lucky Bag:


From The Los Angeles Times on December 17, 2002; the article is a compilation of deaths while flying in the AV-8 Harrier.

Died: June 26, 1981

Family members had been invited on board the amphibious assault ship Tarawa for a cruise, and Tyler's fiancee was watching as he did a demonstration flyby in his AV-8A. He was supposed to make several passes by the ship from stern to bow. But after the first pass, he changed direction, heading bow to stern. After narrowly missing the ship, the plane hit the water.

Investigators concluded the "primary cause of the accident was pilot error," noting that the presence of his fiancee "may have altered Maj. Tyler's previous conscientious flying attitude." Their report also faulted shipboard personnel for not warning Tyler sooner that he had strayed from his flight plan.

Tyler graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and flew helicopters in Vietnam. But his real love was the Harrier. "He just loved to fly that plane," said John L. Tyler, his father.

Thomas Tyler, 33, was divorced and had a daughter, who was 7 at the time he was killed.

From the September 1981 issue of Shipmate:

Capt. Thomas Welch Tyler USMC was killed in an aircraft accident in San Diego, California, on 1 July 1981.

Appointed to the Naval Academy from the State of New York, he was graduated with the Class of 1969 and after basic school was ordered to the U.S. Army Flight School where he was designated aviator in 1971. During the following year he flew the CH-46 helicopter in Okinawa and aboard USS TRIPOLI (LPH-10). For the next three years he was an advanced helicopter instructor with HT-18 at Ellyson Field and Whiting Field in Florida, then took fixed wing transition training at Meridian. Later duty was at Cherry Point and training in the AV-8A Harrier.

He has a marker in Arlington National Cemetery.

Class of 1969

Thomas is one of 17 members of the Class of 1969 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.