LtCol THOMAS VINCENT BOMA USAF(Ret.) Lt Col (USAF Ret) Thomas Vincent Boma, 68, passed away after two years battling the effects of a debilitating coronary event. As in everything he did, he gave it his all in his fight to recover; but it was not to be - God brought him home on 9 February 2021. Tom (aka Boomer and Boma) was born in Piper City IL, 16 May 1952, the third of Francis and Margaret Boma's eight children. He was raised on the family farm and imbued with exceptional family values - that upbringing established many of the characteristics he demonstrated throughout his life. Boma was an early (really early!) riser with a strong work ethic - it's a farm thing. Tom was a man of faith - he seriously considered becoming a priest and the Catholic Church remained very important to him. He was highly competitive and an excellent athlete - two older brothers helped mold that. He was compassionate somebody had to help the five younger siblings. He was a prankster extraordinaire who possessed a wry sense of humor an inherited trait that permeates his family's DNA. As a superb student/athlete at Piper City High School, his exploits helped secure an U.S. Air Force ROTC scholarship at Southern Illinois University (SIU) with the objective of becoming a fighter pilot (it helped that some of his other, less superb, exploits were kept under wraps!). This established the path of his professional life. His personal life was also determined during his Piper City years when he met a cute blond, Barbara Kelly, from neighboring Chatsworth IL the result of that meeting was a 44-year marriage to a great partner in life, two wonderful children of whom Tom was profoundly proud, and four absolutely adored grandchildren. His SIU experience included membership in Sigma Tau Gamma, and he remained loyal to those fraternal friendships his entire life - an admirable quality that continued with his many subsequent friendships. When he needed supplemental income while at SIU, bouncer, campus cop and undercover narc were a few of the jobs that filled that need - an added benefit was that they solidified his desire to become a pilot! While at the Air Force's Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) in 1976, Tom demonstrated great aptitude for flying and was rewarded with an F-4 assignment. He became a fighter pilot, in fact, a superbly talented fighter pilot. During his first two assignments - Torrejon AB SP and Homestead AFB FL - his exceptional flying and leadership skills earned selection to attend the highly competitive and demanding Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC) at Nellis AFB NV. Next, he became an exchange F-4 pilot at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, Yuma MCAS AZ, the Marine equivalent of USAF's FWIC. From Yuma, Boomer was hand-picked to become a member of the 4477TES Red Eagles. Although based at Nellis AFB NV, the Red Eagles actually flew out of Tonopah Test Range Airport (TTR), a remote airstrip 120 miles northwest of Nellis. The Red Eagles mission was highly classified (declassified in 2006). They flew covertly acquired, Soviet-designed MiG aircraft to expose USAF, Navy and Marine fighter forces to the aircraft characteristics and associated tactics of our potential adversaries. An instructor in the MiG-21, Boomer was one of only 69 pilots to fly as a Red Eagle during its 10-year existence. When the 4477TES closed, Boomer moved to the Pentagon where he worked on F-22 development. From the Pentagon, he moved to Laughlin AFB, Del Rio TX. In 1996, he finished his 20-yr career as a Squadron Commander and entered the next phase of his flying career, a 20-years career with FedEx. Following his retirement in 2017, family, travelling, volunteering (USO and CHFN), golfing and futilely rooting for the Cubbies and the Bears remained as his priorities. Tom/Boomer/Boma was a unique individual witty, personable, loyal if you knew him, you didn't forget him. He is survived by his wife, Barb; son, Bart (Christie); daughter, Kelly (Bob) Richardson; grandchildren, Brandon, Allison and Scott Boma, and John Richardson. Also surviving Tom are his mother, Margaret Boma; brothers Roger (Gloria), Dennis (Nancy), Bruce (Lori), and Mark (Mary) Boma; sisters Mary (Kevin) Schwenk and Sheila Sola; sister-in-law, Kay (Chris) Buck; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Francis; his younger brother, Tony; and his parents-in-law, John and Barbara Kelly. Tom will be privately interred at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery. When the COVID picture clears, the family will hold a Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to We Heart Maggie supporting the Children's Heart Foundation of Nevada at www.weheartmaggie.net
or the USO at www.uso.org/donate/nevada
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Published by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Feb. 14, 2021.