AFRH-W Highlight – Thomas Dodson
By Christine Baldwin | Librarian
Thomas Dodson was born in Virginia. His father was career U.S. Navy, who served before World War II and was recalled after Pearl Harbor. He ended up with 23 years’ service. After graduating from high school, Thomas worked in supply for the navy at Portsmouth, Virginia. In 1953, knowing that the draft was coming up, Thomas decided to join a military service. He decided on…the U.S. Air Force! No long deployments on ships for him. He had his basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas and after taking the Airman’s Qualifying Exam, Thomas was sent to the Finance and Accounting School in Denver, Colorado.
Thomas’ first duty station was at Orlando AFB, Florida and he felt he had a very important job handling the Airman’s financial situations. He moved on to handling the travel section at Yokota AFB, Japan for the next eighteen months. Next, it was back to the states and the newly refurbished Homestead AFB, Florida, where Thomas experienced state-of-the-art equipment for his job. He then got orders for Thule, Greenland, where he worked as a cashier. Further assignments included Westover, Massachusetts, (for payroll duty); Homestead, Florida (again); and Ernest Harmon AFB, Newfoundland.
Thomas was fortunate then to be sent to his hometown in Virginia for four years of Air Force recruiting duty. It has here that he met his future wife. They traveled together to his next assignment in Aviano, Italy; where he was the chief of the travel division. Both enjoyed being there and his wife even learned to speak Italian. After being sent to California and experiencing an earthquake, Thomas volunteered for a tour in Vietnam. Here, he again was the chief of the travel division at Da Nang and one of his duties was to deliver paychecks to Thailand. Unfortunately, Thomas got an infected colon and had to be medevaced to the states. He ended up at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, which started poorly with a bad boss, but ended up with him becoming a 1st Sergeant and being in charge of the largest squadron on base. Thomas ended his military career in 1976 back at Homestead AFB and just like his father, he had 23 years!
Thomas and his family, (which had grown to add a daughter and a son), went to Goldsboro, North Carolina where he sold insurance and later worked in finance as a civil servant. They moved to Baltimore, Maryland and Thomas got a job in finance at Fort Meade, which had many problems. After straightening things out, his department was inspected by a team from Georgia. The next thing Thomas knew, he was working in Atlanta, Georgia. By this time, his daughter was working in finance at White Sands AFB, New Mexico and alerted her father to an opening there as the chief of a financial division. He applied and spent the next 14 years there. After his wife died, Thomas retired in 1996.
Because of his career in the financial world, Thomas always knew that AFRH existed. But it wasn’t until a niece checked out the Home and convinced him to look at it, that Thomas came here in October 2017.