Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Toady is a day that is not about BBQs and having people over to celebrate. It is day to remember all those brave men and women who paid the ultimate price in defense of this wonderful nation, and fighting for those freedoms that we all so often take for granted. Fly your flag outside your home. So few houses do this anymore. After 9/11 it was hard NOT to see the Stars and Stripes at a house or office. Now it is a challenge! This Memorial Day I honor Lt. William Thomas "Tom" Costen, United States Navy and his partner Lt. Charlie Turner. Tom grew up in the house behind us in St. Louis. I remember playing wiffle ball with him and running behind the "bug man" smog truck on summer evenings after dinner. Not the smartest of ideas since it was a mosquito killing fog, but hey you were a kid and everyone else did it. Tom's father was also a great friend to the family as well as an Orthopedic Surgeon to a few of of us.

Tom and Charlie Turner were assigned to Attack Squadron 155 at Whidby Island, Washington. Their unit shipped out to the Middle East on board the USS RANGER when U.S. military buildup began there in January 1991. Tom and Charlie had been in the region only ten days when hostilities began and they were asked to fly combat missions on Iraqi military targets in the first wave of offensive strikes of the war the opening night of the Gulf War. Tom was the pilot of an FA6 Intruder, and Charlie his BN (bomdadier/navigator). Both failed to return from missions on the morning of Friday, January 18, 1991.

Later reports revealed that two emergency radio beeper signals were picked up indicating that both Tom and Charlie ejected safely from their aircraft. Both were returning to the USS Ranger after a bombing mission over Baghdad.

On January 20, both Tom and Charlie were officially listed as MIA by the Pentagon. It was not until almost two months after the end of Operation Desert Storm that the Iraqis handed over the remains of 14 United States soldiers. One of those was Tom.

Lt. William Thomas Costen

Lt. Charlie Turner

VA-155 Silver Foxes


Anonymous said...

A tearful tribute to Tommy!


Jose "Pep" Jauregui said...

Thanks for posting such a nice tribute to
Lt. Tom and Lt. Charlie. I served with them on board the USS Ranger during Operation Desert Storm.

Hank B said...

Thank you for your service Jose. Tommy was a great guy and we honor him and those who lost their lives in service of this country.