Thomas "Hoot" Gipson, Jr.

Thomas Gipson

CWO Thomas "Hoot" Gipson, Jr., the original DUSTOFF 39, twice extended his tour of duty to fly DUSTOFF. Hoot was the first warrant officer to be designated as an Aircraft Commander in DUSTOFF. His strong maintenance background resulted in unprecedented aircraft availability and crew utilization during his tenure as maintenance officer and test pilot. He developed new extraction tactics, and due to his strong ties to the 1st Infantry Division, he was able to arrange day-long, hands-on training in hoist operations in early 1966 (including scout dogs). He subsequently made the first wounded scout dog hoist extraction. Hoot is the only aviator to receive two Distinguished Flying Crosses in the same day (for the Mihn Than Road operation, 9 July 1966) He received the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Star, ACM for Valor, four Purple Hearts, and 38 air medals, while evacuating 2639 U.S. military, civilians, and enemy combatants, during 939 combat missions. A man of great moral fiber and bravery, he was a pioneer who faced peril and proved his mettle in combat. Hoot Gipson was inducted into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame on 12 April 2014.