Thomas (Tom) Stafford was born in Washington, DC (June 1923) and raised in Petersburg, VA (Colonial Heights) where he lived during all of his early years. Tom was drafted (March 1943) out of college (Virginia Polytechnic Institute) into the Army during World War II.
Assigned to the 6th Combat Engineer Special Assault Brigade upon arrival (January 1944) in England, he was promoted to Corporal and participated in the invasion of France during the early stages of the assault on OMAHA Beach (D-Day, June 6, 1944). He continued serving with the Brigade through the Normandy and Northern France Campaigns. Transferring (December 1944) to Company L, an Infantry Rifle Company in the 347th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, he was soon promoted to Platoon Sergeant, Second Rifle Platoon and, after replacing his Platoon Commander (who was wounded) continued to lead the Second Platoon during the Battle of the Bulge; the assault on the Siegfried Line; the assault crossing of the Mosel and Rhine Rivers; the Central European campaign and into Czechoslovakia, where he received a battlefield Commission (2nd Lt.) shortly after the surrender by the German forces on May 8, 1945.
Immediately upon the war’s end in Europe, Tom accompanied the 87th Infantry Division upon its return (July 1945) to the States. The Division, having been selected to participate in the invasion of the Japanese Island of Honshu, was preparing to move to California for shipment to Japan when President Truman ordered the use of atomic bombs to persuade the Japanese also to surrender.
Having received five battlefield promotions during combat, (Corporal to 2nd Lt.), Tom decided to remain in the Army after the war finally ended. Selected to serve as Aide-de-camp to General Phillip Gallagher, Commanding General (CG), 25th Infantry Combat Team at Ft. Benning, GA (1946), Tom later accompanied the General to the Philippine Islands where General Gallagher became CG of the 14th Philippine Scout Division. Tom then accompanied Gen. Gallagher back to Germany (1947) as his Aide-de-camp when the General became Deputy CG of the US Constabulary; Director of all US Army Military Posts in USAREUR and later CG of the Berlin Airlift Command during the “Cold War.”
Upon his promotion to Captain, Tom was given (1950) command of a 1st Infantry Division Rifle Company assigned the mission of securing the German-Czechoslovakia border prior to returning to the States (1951). He then served two tours of duty in Korea: first tour, (1953-1954) as Headquarters Company Commander of the 7th Infantry Div. and later as Civil Affairs Officer of the 25th Infantry Div.; second tour, (1960 – 1961) as Budget Officer for the Eighth US Army following his promotion to Major. Between his two tours in Korea, Tom was stationed in Hawaii (1954-1957) with the 25th Infantry Division upon its withdrawal from Korea in 1954.
Returning to the States (1961) after his second tour in Korea, Tom was assigned to the Office of the Comptroller, Military District of Washington. He retired from active military duty (Major) with a medical disability in 1963 but continued to serve as a Dept. of Defense civilian employee (Comptroller, GS-15) until he retired again in 1987, having completed 43 years of Federal service.
During his active military service, Tom received a total of twenty-four decorations and medals, including The Combat Infantry Badge; The Silver Star with one OLC; The Bronze Star with Letter V device and one OLC; The Army Commendation Medal with one OLC; The Presidential Unit Citation (D-Day); The French Croix de Guerre with Palm (D-Day); the French Fourragere(D-Day) plus five campaign stars and D-Day invasion arrowhead. He also was awarded the Army Civilian Meritorious Service Medal.