SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of USAF Capt.

Tommy Leon Callies

Howard, South Dakota, Miner County

 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 daughter, Kellie.

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 sacrifice.

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.


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