- Desert Storm
Thomas Maurice Belisle was born at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1949. He was the second son in a family of four children. As the son of an Army officer, Colonel Maurice A. Belisle (URI ROTC Hall of Fame member), he spent his formative years living near or on various Army installations in the United States and overseas. He entered the University of Rhode Island in 1967 and graduated in 1971. While at the URI, he was a member of the Army ROTC for his first two years and finished his last two years in Air Force ROTC at Brown University.
He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant at Air Force ROTC Field Training in 1971, where he also received the AFROTC Commandants Award for outstanding achievement as a cadet. His first assignment was to Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. His career ambitions changed while there; and he became a Munitions Officer, receiving his training at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado. As a Munitions Officer, he served his first two assignments with B-52 bomber units, the first in the United States, and the second, at U-Tapao Royal Thai Naval Base, Thailand. His third munitions assignment was with an ICBM unit. Tom transitioned into the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) career field where he served in three assignments, two in the United States and one in South Korea. As a Field Grade Officer, he broadened his career into Aircraft Maintenance.
Colonel Belisle’s combat experience involved his assignment as 53rd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Commander, 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional), 4404th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) in ground operations against the enemy during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-1991. At Al Kharj Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he led the maintenance contingent of the 53rd Fighter Squadron, 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, deployed from Bitburg Air Base, Germany supporting F-15C Eagle fighter combat operations. His person-al leadership enabled his unit to produce 1,246 combat sorties, amassing more than 7,365 flying hours in only 43 days, more than any other single fighter squadron in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Under his direction, his aircraft maintenance team achieved one hundred percent of all tasked combat sorties and delivered a weapons system reliability of 99.4%, directly enabling the 53rd Fighter Squadron to achieve eleven enemy aircraft kills.
Tom’s diverse career in three separate career fields resulted in noteworthy achievements. He graduated first in his class at the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal School, Indian Head, Maryland. He was the senior EOD representative for all military services in South Korea from 1982-1984, while also assigned duty there in Foreign Military Sales. He was selected as the United States Air Force Outstanding Munitions Maintenance Officer in 1986. As a squadron commander at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, he led the performance of his aircraft maintenance team to earn honors as the Air Force Maintenance Effectiveness Award winner for 1989, signify-ing the best aircraft maintenance squadron in the Air Force.
Colonel Belisle was selected for command assignments four times, an unprecedented number: first at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, as Commander, 1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron; second, as Commander, 1st Aircraft Generation Squadron; his third command assignment was as Commander, 36th Aircraft Generation Squadron, and then, Assistant Deputy Commander for Maintenance, Bitburg Air Base, Germany; and finally, his fourth command assignment was as Commander, 4th Logistics Group, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. His most senior leadership position was earned in his last assignment as Deputy Director of Logistics, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. During his career, he provided aircraft maintenance and munitions support on the B-52D, B-52G, F-4E, F-15C, F-15E, and KC-10 aircraft, and the Titan II and Minuteman II/III missiles.
Colonel Belisle decorations include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with 4 devices, the Air Force Commendation Medal, Kuwait Libera-tion Medal (Kuwait), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), and Southwest Asia Service Medal. His formal education includes a Bachelors of Arts Degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1971, a Master’s of Science Degree from the University of Southern California in 1984. His professional military education includes graduation from residence Squadron Officers School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College, among several career field schools.
After retirement from the Air Force, Colonel Belisle worked in aircraft-related jobs within the Defense Industry for the next 16 years. First, he was the Director of Logistics Support and Modifications, F-22 Raptor Program, at Lockheed Martin Aerospace in Marietta, Georgia. His final post-military career job was as the Director of Support, Joint STARS Program, at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Melbourne, Florida.
Tom has been married to his wife Cathy of Wakefield, Rhode Island since 1972. They live in the Viera, Florida area where he enjoys golf, traveling, and visiting their three children and four grandchildren. He also enjoys doing volunteer work and writing novels.
Colonel Thomas Belisle, USAF, follows a tradition of military service to his country begun by his father Colonel Maurice Belisle, USA, and his brother Rear Admiral Kenneth Belisle, USN, and continued by his son Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Belisle, USMC. His exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon his country, his family and the University of Rhode Island.