Senior: Trinity Care Center resident has been all overThomas Maloney has covered a lot of ground — and flown through a lot of air, not all of it friendly — in the course of his life.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Thomas Maloney has covered a lot of ground — and flown through a lot of air, not all of it friendly — in the course of his life.
Maloney grew up in Wymore, Neb. He went to school there through high school, but when he graduated his father took him to Kansas City, Mo., to attend the Missouri Aviation Institute. He learned to work on airplanes, and when he graduated he moved to Wichita, where he spent two years building Cessnas. From there he moved to San Diego, where he spent another two years building BB-55 battleships for the Navy.
Maloney quit that job when he got his draft notice. He moved back to Nebraska, and when his name came up he entered the Army and trained to be an aerial gunner and a flight engineer. He trained in Texas and in Mississippi, then moved to Salt Lake City to meet the men who would make up his crew.
“We were 10 men who had never seen each other before,” said Maloney, who lives these days at Trinity Care Center in Farmington. “It didn’t take long (to become friends). We couldn’t have been luckier.”
Maloney and his crew eventually made their way to the Dover coast of England in a new B-24 bomber. Their first combat mission together was on D-Day. They were assigned to bomb bridges in France to make it more difficult for German soldiers to retreat from the beaches. Maloney manned the plane’s top turret. In 34 missions he saw other planes he flew with shot down, but he never was.
“We were very lucky,” he said.
When Maloney’s time in Europe was up he returned to Nebraska for a furlough, then started training on a B-29 bomber to fly in the South Pacific. The war ended before he could deploy.
After he left the military Maloney moved to Omaha to work for a paint company. That’s where he met his wife, Theda.
“She was a wonderful mother,” he said. “We had two kids.”
Maloney worked for Ace Hardware until 1987, when his son convinced him to move to Burnsville to be closer to him. He spent four years there before he became very ill. He moved to Trinity for rehabilitation, then returned to Burnsville. When he got to the point where he could no longer care for himself, he returned to Trinity for good.
“I’ve had a good life,” Maloney said.