Americans in Wartime Experience

Tom Eggers

Vietnam War

Tom Eggers- Vietnam, Grenada & Desert Storm - US Air Force

Tom Eggers was born just before America’s entry into World War II, in the city of Centralia, Illinois. He grew up surrounded by relatives and others who passed stories of their service during World War II and the Korean War. It was his life’s passion to become a pilot. After graduation from high school, he was accepted into the Air Force Academy. Upon completion of his time at the Academy in 1965, he was admitted to Flight School at Reese Air Force Base, where he specialized in the sizeable C-141 transport plane. After a three-year duty assignment at Dover Air Force Base, Tom was deployed to Vietnam.

Tom spent the entire year of 1968 in Vietnam. Shortly after arriving, he cross-trained on the C-47 airframe and quickly became a regional flight instructor to train newly reported pilots. After a few months, he was reassigned to flying electronic reconnaissance missions over Vietnam and Laos where his crew listened in on enemy radio transmissions and monitored troop movements. Tom provides a detailed account of the living conditions during his deployment, recalling regular rocket attacks on the airbase at Pleiku, long monsoon seasons, and methods of maintaining contact with family back in the states. One of his most vivid memories was the complete lack of ice cream in Vietnam.

During his time in Vietnam, Tom flew over 100 missions totaling over 800 hours of flight time. He stated that his homecoming was relatively uneventful. He returned home in 1970 as a Captain and transferred with his family to San Antonio, where he flew CONUS patient transport missions. He recalled this duty station as his favorite. Tom moved to the Pentagon in 1973. It was during this assignment he noticed the protestors and their increasing hostility toward members of the military. Tom recalled that they became so intense that the commander ordered that no one was to wear their uniforms to or from the installation.

Between 1975 and 1978, he returned to the Air Medical Transport duty in Germany. By this time, he was a Lieutenant Colonel. Following his stint in German, he transferred to the War College. The highlight of his time there was his trip to mainland China. After two years, Tom moved again to the Pentagon where he served on the Foreign Relations Counsel. It was here he promoted to Colonel.

Following his year in Arlington, he transferred to Charleston Air Force Base, where he received his formal introduction to the Special Operations Community. Tom again was in the cockpit of the AC-141, transporting SEALs and DELTA members to operations worldwide. While at this assignment, he participated in activities in Grenada and Panama. While in Grenada, he flew the transport that repatriated the rescued students to the United States.

After his time at Charleston AFB, he transferred again to the Pentagon as a Brigadier General, where he was named the first commander of the Air Force’s Special Operations Command. In 1991, the United States again found itself in a state of war. Tom served as the Special Operations Commander during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. His service during this period, he cited as his highest achievement.

Tom retired from the Air Force in 1994, at the rank of Major General. His son followed in his footsteps and served a term in the Air Force. Tom asserts even today that the military is an excellent way of life and highly recommends it.


Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal1

To read Major General Egger’s official bio, click here.

Bio prepared by Shannon P. Reck, MMH

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The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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