And Especially By His Son, Joshua McClellanIn loving memory of Tom
Lieutenant Thomas Wilkinson McClellan III
United States Navy
Photo Courtesy of Wyona Moone, Tom's aunt.
Thomas Wilkinson McClellan III was born in Huntsville, Alabama on February 6, 1956 to the late Thomas Wilkinson McClellan II and Betty Jean Farmer McClellan.
Tom was always a risk taker. At the age of two he managed to climb a ladder and was found on the roof of the house. A few years later he started working with explosives by turning on the gas on the stove, leaving the room, then coming in and lighting a match. He talked often about making his own firecrackers at the age of 12. He made rubberband guns as a child, shot his younger brothers, then taught them to make their own. From the beginning he had a huge giving heart, always ready with a hug and willing to make whatever extra effort was necessary to get the job done.
His naval career began in September 1975 when he enlisted as a Torpedoman’s Mate in the U. S. Navy at Birmingham, Alabama and served aboard USS TAUTOG (SSN 639) for four years. He was commissioned Ensign, U. S. Navy in September 1987 through the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) Program.
Lieutenant McClellan graduated from Explosive Ordnance Disposal School in September 1980 and transferred to EOD Mobile Unit ONE, Barbers Point, Hawaii. While at EOD mobile Unit ONE he served as Leading Petty Officer for the EOD detachment onboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV 41) and Leading Chief Petty Officer for the Area Search Detachment. On transfer to the EOD Technology Center he served as an Explosive Test Range Supervisor, testing Render Safe Procedures for EOD Publications, Munitions Disassembly Technician, performing the first time disassembly and reverse engineering of foreign ordnance and as Leading Chief Petty Officer of the Scientific Technical Intelligence Office.
After commissioning in September 1987, Lieutenant McClellan served as Officer in Charge of EOD Mobile Unit FIVE Detachment Subic Bay, Philippines, and Officer in Charge of EOD Mobile Unit FIVE Detachment SEVEN. While serving as Officer in Charge of Detachment SEVEN, he attained the qualifications as Officer of the Deck and Surface Warfare Officer onboard USS MIDWAY (CV 41).
Lieutenant McClellan led his team on numerous exercise and operations including the recovery of a crashed U. S. Air Force SR-71 and the first United States diving mission in North Vietnam for recovery of United States military personnel Missing in Action.
Following his tour at EODMU FIVE, Lieutenant McClellan was assigned as Material Officer, for Commander, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group ONE in 1990. During Desert Storm, Lieutenant McClellan supervised the inerting, removal of explosive hazards, from Iraqi mines recovered in the Arabian gulf.
In 1993 Lieutenant McClellan was assigned as Operations Officer to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit SIX. During his tour at EODMU SIX, he conducted the initial planning for the highly successful U. S. Navy EOD support to the 1996 Olympics.
He planned and executed the deployment of the command to numerous exercises and operations including deployments to Denmark, Arabian Gulf, and Diving Support for TWA Flight 800 Recovery Mission.
In the first half of 1996, Tom served as EOD Officer for Commander Sixth Fleet, planning and executing EOD Diving and Salvage exercises and missions in the Mediterranean. These included planning the first U. S. Exercise with government of Malta, Crucial Diving and Salvage missions in Tunisia and the first MCM exercise with the country of Israel.
Lieutenant McClellan’s personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal and the Air Force Achievement Medal. His special designations earned during his service in the U. S. Navy were the Surface Warfare
Insignia, the Submarine Insignia, the Master EOD Warfare Insignia and the Basic Parachutist Insignia. He received 17 commendation medals.
In his personal life, Tom was twice married. His first marriage in 1975 to his high school sweetheart Debbie Hyatt lasted only a year. In February 1980 he married Sherry L. Davis. Their son Joshua Thomas was born in January 1983 and son Jerett Thomas was born in September 1984. He retired from the U. S. Navy on October 31,1996, at which time he became a Senior Programs Analyst for Wintec Corporation where he became an integral part of their operation. He was named 1999 WinTec Employee of the Year.
In January 2000, Tom received his Associates degree. A strong believer in education, he had begun pursuing a further degree at the time of his death. He had a great appreciation of impressionist art, an admirer of artists such as Manet and Edward Hopper. A man modest of his own accomplishments, he recently described himself as follows:
“Retired US Navy Bomb Disposal Officer, Deep Sea Diver, Sky Diver and last of the Ballroom Dancers. Taught Rock Climbing to little kids on days off from real job.”
Those little kids had great respect for this big man in their lives and his passing left a great hole in their little lives. He also worked with his son, Josh, in rock climbing techniques. His sons were the light of his life and his pride and joy.
Tom passed away on May 7, 2000 at the Civista Medical Center in La Piata, Maryland. He was preceded in death by his sister Mary Elizabeth and his father Thomas Wilkinson McClellan II. He was survived by his mother, Betty Jean Farmer Clark of Flintville, Tennessee; sons Joshua Thomas McClellan and Jerett Thomas McClellan of Waldorf, Maryland; stepfather Arless Clark of Flintville, Tennessee; sister Debra McClellan of Flintville, Tennessee; brother Michial McClellan of Tuscon, Arizona; brother James McClellan of Huntsville, Alabama; and brother John McClellan of Athens, Alabama. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on May 25, 2000 with full military honors.
He is remembered by all who knew him as a generous, giving, caring individual who brought love where ever he went. The Sunshine dimmed a little bit on the day Tom died and he will be missed greatly by all who knew him.
- LT US NAVY
- VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 09/01/1975 – 10/31/1996
- DATE OF BIRTH: 02/06/1956
- DATE OF DEATH: 05/07/2000
- DATE OF INTERMENT: 05/25/2000
- BURIED AT: SECTION 68 SITE 1873
- 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