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.