In Memory of USAF Capt.
Howard, South Dakota, Miner
May 31, 1943 - August 1, 1969
Killed in action when plane was shot down
over Quang Nagi Province, South Vietnam
Tommy Leon Callies was born in Blythe, California, on May
31, 1943, to Gerhard L. and Goldie D. Callies. He had a
sister, Jeannette. In 1961 Tommy graduated from Howard High
School in Howard, South Dakota. While in high school he took
part in all sports, and enjoyed singing and drama. Tommy
attended the United States Air Force Academy, and graduated
from there on June 9, 1965. Tommy married Barbara Ann Nelson
on July 2, 1966 in Howard. They had a son, Tadd, and a
Tommy Leon Callies entered the United States Air Force on
June 9, 1965. He took pilot training at Vance Air Force Base
in Enid, Oklahoma, and fighter pilot training at Eglin Air
Force Base in Florida. Captain Callies made his first tour
of duty in Vietnam from July 29, 1967 to April 16, 1968,
flying 100 missions before returning to the states. After
additional flight training, Captain Callies was assigned to
the 366 Combat Support Group, 421 Tactical Fighter Squadron.
He was sent to Vietnam for his second tour of duty on April
16, 1969 where they were flying missions from Da Nang
Airbase in the Republic of Vietnam.
On August 1, 1969 Captain Callies was commander of an
F-4E aircraft on a strike mission. After releasing his bomb
on target over South Vietnam, the aircraft continued in a
straight line toward a hill and was observed to hit the
upslope of the hill. There were no beepers heard or
parachutes seen. Captain Callies was carried as MIA for one
year, and then his status was changed to KIA as of August 1,
1969. The body of Captain Tommy L. Callies was never
recovered. A memorial service was held at the Air Force
Academy, with a marker placed in the Academy cemetery.
Captain Callies was awarded the Purple Heart, and the
Distinguished Flying Cross. Captain Tommy Leon Callies’ name
can be seen on Panel 20w, Row 082 on the Vietnam Veteran’s
Memorial Wall, in Washington, D.C.
Barbara Callies wrote:
Tom will be remembered for his
dedication to the cause of freedom, not only for his
family, but for his country. He often said freedom
demands many kinds of sacrifice—as time has passed, we
as a family have learned the immensity of the word
Seth Allen Lopour, 8th Grade, Stanley County Schools,
Fort Pierre, South Dakota, December 2, 2005 respectfully
submitted this entry. Barbara Callies, Rapid City, South
Dakota, wife of Captain Tommy Leon Callies, provided
information for this entry.