2 January 1969 – Army Lieutenant Colonel Thomas F. O'Dea, Jr. knew what it was like to be fighting a war thousands of miles away from home on Christmas Day – the loneliness, longing, and fear.
He was a career soldier, and Christmas found him him acting as military adviser in Tay Hinh province northwest of Saigon.
That morning he climbed into a helicopter to fly over the province and wish his men a Merry Christmas.
It was his last mission. He was killed when the Viet Cong shot his helicopter down. He was 42.
Lieutenant Colonel O'Dea of 10120 Morgan Street, Chicago, left a wife, Roberta; and four children, Thomas 18; Cynthia 15; Thereas, 12, and Sandra 8.
“The day after Christmaswe received a tape recording from him,” Mrs. O'Dea said. “He told the children to help me and to make him proud of them by continuing to get good marks in school”
He also was looking forward to being reunited with his family when his tour of duty in Vietnam was over in September, she said.
“He said it would be a brighter Christmas next year when we could wish each other a Merry Christmas personally,” she said.
To make the holiday season a little happier for him the family sent a small Chritmas Tree and decorations. “In his last letter, which I received December 21, he told us how much he had enjoyed it,” Mrs. O'Dea said.
Lietuenant Colonel O'Dea attended Loyola University after srving in the Navy in World War II. After joining the Army, he completed collegeat the University of Maryland.
He was an expert in the Chinese Mandarin language and service in the Korean was in Formosa and Germany.
Lieutenant Colonel O'Dea is also survived by his two sisters and a brother.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, 9837 Throop Street. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington.
Full Name: THOMAS FRANCIS O'DEA JR
Date of Birth: 8/3/1926
Date of Casualty: 12/25/1968
Date of Death: 12/25/1968
Home of Record: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Branch of Service: ARMY
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: TAY NINH
O'DEA, THOMAS F Jr
- LTC US ARMY
- KOREA, VIETNAM
- DATE OF BIRTH: 08/03/1926
- DATE OF DEATH: 12/25/1968
- BURIED AT: SECTION 6 SITE 9379 RH
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard