Lieutenant General Thomas J. Cushman, who won the Distinguished Service Medal and his second Legion of Merit while serving in Korea with the First Marine Aircraft Wing, died in July 1972 in Corona del Mar, California.
He commanded the Forward Echelon of the First Marine Aircraft Wing when it landed in Korea in July 1950, and served as Assistant Commander of the Wing until June 1951. At that time he became Commanding General of the Wing, and remained in that capacity until returning to the United States in August 1951.
Thomas J. Cushman was born on 27 June 1895 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended the University of Washington in Seattle, and after completing his studies in 1917, enlisted in the Marine Corps on 19 July 1917. On 22 October 1918 he was commissioned a second lieutenant and after completing flight training in July 1919, was designated a Naval Aviator.
He was assigned to duty at the Marine Barracks, Puget Sound, Washington, in June 1921, following which he was ordered to duty overseas in September 1923, at the Naval Station, Guam, Marianas Islands.
He returned to the United States in November 1924, and was stationed at Brown Field, Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, where he remained until August 1925, when he joined the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida, as an instructor.
From November 1926 to April 1929 he was attached to Aircraft Squadrons, West Coast Expeditionary Force, at San Diego, California. During this period he was on temporary foreign shore duty at Managua, Nicaragua, from March through June 1927.
He was again ordered overseas in May 1929, as Communications and Aerological Officer with Observation Squadron 9-M attached to the First Brigade Marines at Port au Prince, Haiti. In December 1930, he became Executive Officer of the Squadron.
Upon return to the United States in September 1931 he was assigned as a student at the Engineering Course, Army Air Corps Technical Schools, Chanute Field, Rantoul, Illinois. Upon graduation in July 1932, he continued his training as a student at the Company Officers Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. He completed the course in June 1933, and was assigned to duty in Washington with the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department.
In August 1935 he was ordered to training at the Army Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, and in July 1936, joined Aircraft Two at San Diego, where he was commander of Observation Squadron Eight. In June 1937 he was named Operations Officer of Aircraft Two, and in July of the following year assumed duties as Commander of Fighter Squadron Two-M.
The general returned to the East Coast in June 1939 to assume duties as Detachment Commander of the Base Air Detachment at Quantico, and remained in this post until August 1941, when he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.
During World War II he served as Chief of Staff to the Commanding General of Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific, from September 1943 to May 1944; was Commander and Deputy Commander, 4th Marine Base Defense Air Wing, May to October 1944; and was Air Defense Commander of the Marianas Islands from November 1944 to April 1945. For his outstanding services in the above capacities he was awarded respectively a Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit.
He was ordered back to the United States in April 1945, and in the following months assumed duties as Commanding General of the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, with additional duty as Deputy Commander, Marine Corps Air Bases. In September 1946 he became Commander of the Marine Corps Air Bases, serving in that capacity until March 1947. He joined Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, in May 1947, as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, and became Commanding General, Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, on 5 February 1948.
In June 1950 he was named Assistant Wing Commander, First Marine Aircraft Wing, with which unit he served in Korea. He commanded the wing there from May until August 1951 when he returned to the United States.
He commanded Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, and the Second Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, from then until assuming his final duties in February 1953 as Deputy Commander, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and gold star in lieu of a second and the Bronze Star Medal, General Cushman's medals and decorations include the Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star; the Army Distinguished Unit Emblem; the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal; the World War I Victory Medal; the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; the American Defense Service Medal; the American Area Campaign Medal; the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal with two bronze stars; the World War II Victory Medal; the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.
The white hair and slender, erect figure of the dynamic Brigade commander would soon become a familiar sight to every platoon leader at the front. His assistant, General Cushman, was born in St. Louis, Mo. in 1895 and attended the University of Washington. Enlisting in the Marine Corps shortly after the outbreak of World War I, he completed flight training and was designated a naval aviator. Subsequent tours of aviation duty in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Guam were varied with assignments as instructor at Pensacola and administrative officer with BuAer in Washington. Cushman was a wing commander in World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star and Legion of Merit while serving in that capacity and later as chief of staff to the CG of Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific.
After the war he became commander of the Marine Corps Air Bases and CG of Aircraft, FMFPac.
The new organization consisted of the 5th Marines and Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG–33).Commanding the MAG was Brigadier General Thomas J. Cushman who had recently been Commanding General, Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. General Cushman's MAG was composed of three Marine fighter squadrons and VMO-6.