1/Lt. Thomas M. Love
1/Lt. Thomas M. Love
343rd FS - 28 September 1944 - 24 February 1945 (Prisoner of War)
P-51D CY-I 44-14296 "Mardy"
|Notes||06 December 1917 - Born in Dallas, Texas
Entered service from St. Louis, Missouri.
Lt. Love was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
ASN - O-26051
28 September 1944 - Joined the 343rd Fighter Squadron
24 February 1945 - Shot down by flak and made a Prisoner of War
MACR No. 12620.
Hit by flak at Zwischenahn A/F.
Made an emergency landing near Oldenberg, Germany, with 60% of his airplane reported as destroyed and the pilot reported as wounded. Lt. Love was immediately captured and imprisoned at Stalag Luft III.
07 March 1979 - Passed away in an aircraft accident
|Memories||Thomas McAdoo Love was born on 6 December 1917 in Dallas,
Texas, to Edgar Palmore and Kathryn Burnett Love, members of a prominent
Dallas family. The family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, soon afterwards.
Tom’s lifelong passion for flying began as a child when the Postmaster of St. Louis took him on trimotor airplane flights inaugurating air mail routes to other cities. At age 13 Tom enrolled in an airplane mechanic’s course at Lambert Field where a squadron mate of Charles Lindbergh taught him to fly. Although underaged, he soloed. He was the mascot of the “St. Louis Robin,” the first airplane to stay aloft for a month while circling St. Louis. By age 15 Tom could fly, was an accomplished mechanic, owned a “hotrod” and was the business chauffeur for his father who couldn't drive.
Tom’s introduction to the military came at Christian Brothers High School, a military school, and was reinforced by two years at Texas Agriculture & Mechanical College where he studied Mechanical Engineering. In 1937 he returned to St. Louis to work as an engineering draftsman. Tom decided to go to West Point to become a military pilot.
Upon graduation Colonel Love attended transition and gunnery courses and served as fighter pilot instructor in P-40s and P-47s before joining the 55th Fighter Group in Europe.
In February 1945 while on his 45th combat mission, he was shot down while strafing an airdrome near Osnabnick, Germany. Explosive flak disabled his plane at an altitude of five feet and a speed of 350 miles per hour rendering him unconscious with a head wound. As his P-51 bounced on the ground, he revived enough to lift it over a hangar before he blacked out again. He awoke with the Germans pulling him from the wreckage of his ship which had come to rest in a small clearing surrounded by tall pine trees. This incident strengthened Tom’s already deep faith in God and instilled an enduring sense of optimistic fatalism. He wrote, “The Lord had really done an excellent job of crash landing my ship as I was ‘out of this world’ at the time. My spirits quickened for I had been lucky enough to have the Lord pick the only landing site and land the ship for me—I must have been destined to live.”
With a wounded head and a locked knee Tom walked over 500 miles as the retreating Germans moved the prisoners of war from camp to camp toward Southern Germany. A fellow POW writes, “How he made that long walk in that condition is beyond comprehension.” He adds, “Tom was an inspiration to all who knew him there at Moosburg. He was a strong, determined individual who could bear up under any hardships and make the most of any situation.”
Following World War II Colonel Love was assigned to the 4th Air Force Jet Cadre and to the 27th Fighter Squadron. After a tour with Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University of California at Los Angeles, he attended the Air Force Institute of Technology. In 1948 he was assigned to Randolph Air Force Base before going to the 57th Fighter Interceptor Group in Alaska. On his return, he was assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron in Rome, New York, as deputy commander.
From 1953 to 1955 he served in the Air Force Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado. In 1956 he graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College followed by 12 years in various planning positions in research and development and in aerospace research in the Baltimore/Washington area. In 1968 he was assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Naples, Italy, followed by three years as Chief of Long Range Plans in Headquarters, United States Air Forces Europe in Germany. He retired in December 1972.
Colonel Love’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Meritorious Service Medal, The Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, The Purple Heart, The Air Force Commendation Medal, The Presidential Unit Citation and the Distinguished Unit Award.
On retirement Colonel Love devoted his full energy to flying, designing race cars and sailing. He founded Love Aviation in Centreville, Maryland, and specialized in teaching aerobatics.
Colonel Love left his wife, Jane Hazelton Love, and four children: Paul Love, Anne Love Harlow, Thomas Love Jr, and Sally Love, all of Centreville, Maryland. He had seven grandchildren.
The ashes of Colonel Thomas McAdoo Love were scattered on the waters of Chesapeake Bay.
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