Tom was born March 18, 1921 in St. Pauls, NC, son of the late Lon H. and Myra
Broadwell Townsend. His wife, Margrette Townsend, preceded him in death. Major Townsend began his military career with Company L, 120th Infantry, N.C. National Guard from which he and 123 others were inducted into active service in September 1940. On December 7, 1941, he was an infantry Platoon Guide Sergeant at Fort Jackson, SC, but shortly entered Aviation Cadet training, graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant in June 1942. For the next 21 years he served as combat navigator, Air Transport Command ferry crew member, Base Intelligence Officer, Provost Marshal, weather recon navigator, weather forecaster, inspector, comptroller, and management analyst. He flew 24 bombing missions over Europe in B-19’s during World War II.
Upon retiring from the Air Force, he returned to Wilmington, earned a Master’s
Degree at East Carolina College and taught at Sunset Park Junior High School
and Wilmington College. Later he taught at Acme-Delco and Pender High Schools, as well as, Southeast Community College. He also served as curriculum
director for a Children and Youth program with the Tennessee Department of
Mental Health and was a special education teacher at Acme-Delco and Pender
Major Townsend attended NC State College 1939-1940, earned an in-service
undergraduate degree at Arkansas Polytechnic College and following retirement
earned advanced degrees at East Carolina College and Peabody College of
Major Townsend was a member of the Wilmington Unitarian-Universalist
Fellowship, the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion Post 10, Air
Force Sergeants Association, Military Officers Association of America, Reserve
Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, New Hanover County Veterans
Council, and the Wilmington Kiwanis Club. He was a founder and long-time
member of the Cape Fear Literacy Council and had served many years on the
Board of the Brigade Boys and Girls Club. He was a member of American
Mensa, serving as area proctor and district proctor coordinator for several years.
Long active in veteran affairs, Major Townsend had twice been commander of the
NC Disabled American Veterans, which he also served as Judge Advocate for
several years. He was also commander of the NC Veterans Council, president of
the NC Retired Officers Association, commander and long-time adjutant of the
Wilmington Disabled American Veterans chapter, Post Advocate and Trustee of
VFW Post 2573, Judge Advocate of American Legion Post 10, a founding
member and long-time Secretary-Treasurer of the New Hanover County Veterans
Council, a member of the NC WWII Memorial Commission, and a member of
many local and state civic and historical organizations.
Recipient of several wartime military awards, Major Townsend was proudest of
his selection as 1996-97 NC Disabled Veteran of the Year and 1997 New
Hanover Human Relations Commission, Citizen of the Year. Also recipient of the
NC Order of the Long Leaf Pine and Star News Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is survived by his son, Edwin Townsend and daughter, Myra Palmeter of
Wilmington, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, Major Townsend has asked that memorial gifts be made to the
Cape Fear Literacy Council or the Brigade Boys and Girls Club.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.