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May 10, 1947 -  February 13, 2012

Taggart grave
281st AHC 69-70 (Bandits)
CAC 72-73

CW2 Taggart was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Bronze Star. He was born in Kearny, New Jersey and is interred in BG William C Doyle Veterans Cemetery, Arneytown, New Jersey. Thomas flew for Roger Penzke Racing.

May 29, 1936 - December 9, 2011

Joe Thurston smile        Joe Thurston grave

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Joe B. Thurston passed away on Friday. Col. Thurston was born on May 29, 1936, in Alex, Oklahoma, where he was a distinguished graduate from Alex High School in 1954. He was an Eagle Scout and played Football in High School. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. He was commissioned as second lieutenant of artillery in the U.S. Army following his graduation from OU.

In September 1965, he was assigned to Vietnam where he commanded an armed helicopter unit in the 5th Special Forces Delta Project. He was again assigned to Vietnam in 1967 and served as Aviation Operations Officer, 1st Aviation Brigade, and Army Aviation Officer, Headquarters. II Field Forces. He returned to Vietnam for a third tour in 1971 to command an aviation battery, and serve as Air Cavalry Squadron Operations Officer, 101st Airborne Infantry Division. He was a graduate of the Field Artillery Associates Officer Advanced Course, and a graduate of the U.S. Army Aviation School, Fort Rucker, Alabama and Airborne Course, Fort Benning, Georgia. He was a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia and the Air War College, Maxwell Air force Base, Alabama. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with V and three Oak leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with V and ten Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart. Col. Thurston was the first Commander of the Army Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was authorized to wear the Parachutist Badge, Army Aviation Badge and U.S. Air Force Space Badge.

Col. Thurston was recently honored by the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. He was inducted on November 11th, 2011 in a special Veteran's Day ceremony with several other honorees, including 14 Comanche code talkers from World War II. His entire family was there to celebrate with him.

After his retirement from the Army, he held several positions within Raytheon as a Patriot Missile engineer and handled International Patriot Sales. He retired in 1999 from Raytheon. His retirement years were spent with volunteering with Special needs adults, refereeing AYSO soccer games, becoming a Master Gardner and teaching classes. He also celebrated Patriot's Day for many years with Asbury Child Development Center, by shooting rockets off for the children. He was a loving father and very involved with his grandchildren's activities.

He is survived by Janice K. Thurston, his loving wife of 49 years; four children, Thomas P. Thurston, Phoenix, Ariz., Jennifer L. Brewer, Dallas, Tex., Elizabeth Thurston-Dodd, Madison, Al., Joseph B. Thurston, Phoenix, Arizona; plus four frandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph B. Thurston; mother, Eva Inez Thurston; and brother, Phillip Page Thurston.
There will be a memorial service at Asbury United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. on Tuesday 13th following a reception with the family. The burial service will be held in Oklahoma at Fort Sill National Cemetery, with military honors.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Hospice Family Care, 3304 West Mill Dr, Huntsville, Al 35805 or The American Cancer Society. Asbury United Methodist Church and Madison Chapel Funeral Home is assisting the family.


From: Gary L. Stagman, In 281st AHC 66, 67, 68 & 70

I should of called many more times, but it's easy to get involved with many of the other things to help those that were there. I really enjoyed shooting the bull with Joe as he seemed to be able to make one realize their own problems aren't so bad at all. My hats off to one fine gentleman for all of the high points that he made in others lives, super pilot and knew what to do in just about every instance. Rest in peace and with no pain and suffering in Heaven!

From: Duane D. Vincent

In 1965-66 when I was a very young Crewchief, I had the honor of serving with then Capt. Thurston in the 145th Airlift Platoon in Vietnam. He was a skilled and brave gunship pilot who excelled on every mission and always brought his crew and his helicopter home safely (except once). All of the gunners and crewchiefs wanted to fly with him and I think that is the greatest compliment a pilot can have in a combat aviation unit. Crewchiefs and gunners always have their favorite pilots, and he was one of the 145th ALPs best, not just because of his soldierly qualities, but because he was a gentleman. He treated everyone with respect and we all respected him. It's always hard to say goodbye to a former comrade but he left a legacy of accomplishments, family, and friendships to envy. My condolences to his family. I was proud to have known Joe Thurston.


Dear Friends,

I regret to tell you that Joe lost his battle with cancer on Friday Dec 9th 2011. He "fought the good fight" for 9 years. I know he cherished your friendships and felt blessed that you were in his life. I do also, and while we are sad at his passing he is now healthy again and with God. A memorial service will be held today, December 13th, at Asbury United Methodist church at 3pm.

I 'll probably not get out Christmas cards this year but stay healthy and happy and we wish you all many blessings.

Fondest Regards,

Jan & Family

December 26, 1947 - October 11, 2006

Johnny Turpin     
(281st photo provided by Norm Kaufman)
Johnny with the 281st & Johnny in 2004

Johnny served with the 281st as a member of the Rat Pack and as a Bandit pilot during the 1967-1968 time frame. At the time of his death Johnny was living in New Port News, VA.
He is survived by his wife Richaleen and one son.

From: Becky Whitmore [twiggsrest@earthlink.net]
Friday, October 20, 2006 :
I'm deeply saddened to inform you that Johnny Turpin passed away October 11, 2006 in Newport News,VA from a massive heart attack. If you need more information, please contact me.

Died after his tour in May , 2008
Wolf Pack CE Aircraft 231

Milton served in the 281st AHC as a Wolf Pack Crew Chief from November 1969 until October 1970. He also served a tour with the 174th AHC .

SANFORD - A Lemon Springs man died Friday from injuries sustained when the motorized wheelchair he was operating was struck by an automobile. Milton Thomas, 64, was traveling north along Lemon Springs Road returning from a trip to a local store on his wheelchair when Melissa McLeod struck him with her 2001 Jeep. Trooper Tim Bolduc reported that Thomas died at the scene.


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