Lt. Colonel Blaine Thomas, a Hometown Hero - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lt. Colonel Blaine Thomas, a Hometown Hero

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Three days a week, you can find Blaine Thomas at the gym. The 91-year old, who's known as "The Colonel" when he's there, has become a staple at Zach's Club.

"My doctor said it was good for me and I enjoy it," Thomas said.

However, this man has quite the story. He's a part of the greatest generation. Thomas was drafted into the Army in December of 1942.

"I said, I'd like to fly in one of those big bombers and be a gunner. And they said, Great, we're losing them like mad," Thomas said.

The Army had other plans for Thomas though. He was trained to fly B-17'S and immediately sent oversea's, right in the middle of the World War Two chaos.

"The idea of me and that monster didn't sound very good, but that's the military. You're going to be a B-17 pilot," Thomas said.

Thomas was getting used to war life in Europe. He says, they would get up in the morning, have breakfast, fly a mission and come home. However, on their 21st mission, they were flying over Dresden, Germany, when disaster struck.

"We had a shell go through our left wing and put a big hole in it. It ruptured a fuel tank, which started a wing fire," Thomas said.

The crew knew they had a decision to make.

"We were getting up to the target area and the flames were getting worse. The tail gunner called and said, 'Hey skipper, the flames are going back towards the tail, so it's no longer a choice, you got to get out," Thomas said.

Just as they bailed, the plane exploded. Thomas then landed in a clearing.

"I got up and started to get out of my parachute. I happened to turn my head to the left and there was about a dozen German solider's looking down gun barrels at me. The only thing I knew to do was put up my hands, I didn't speak a word of German," Thomas said.

Thomas then spent almost two months in a German prisoner of war camp, until the war was over. After the war, Thomas continued to serve in the reserves. He flew bombers in Korea and Vietnam and looking back, he couldn't be more proud that he served his country.

"I suspect, people in this country don't even realize they're taking things for granted. But they are taking a lot of things for granted in this country," Thomas said.

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