Thomas A. Rice from Delaplaine, Arkansas, was commissioned from Arkansas State in 1953 as a second lieutenant in the Artillery, U.S. Army. He rapidly rose in rank retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1973. He completed several overseas tours of duty including two tours to Vietnam, and one to Korea and Italy. He received many awards and decorations including: the Silver Star, 3 Bronze Star Medals, Distinguished Flying Cross, The Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, Army Commendation Medal for Valor and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star. In summary, for gallantry in combat military action:
15 August 1966, ARCOM with "V" device: After sending the rest of the operations staff to cover, while exposed to heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire, he coordinated and controlled a joint counter attack consisting of: Artillery, Army Helicopter Gunships, and Air Force Jets. His efforts resulted in a flawless counter attack that repulsed the enemy and direction of utilization of crowded air space by elements that are diverse in their command, communications, and control.
16 August 1966, Distinguished Flying Cross: While leading a six aircraft formation, extracting two infantry companies from a hotly contested landing zone Major Rice directed multiple sorties to safely land while directing fires from Helicopter Gunships on a converging enemy. With darkness pending and the enemy drawing even closer to the infantry, the ground forces commander directed the helicopters to leave until Artillery and Air Force fires could repel the enemy. Major Rice, knowing the dangers of nighttime flight operations talked the ground commander out of this course of action, briefed the pilots of the lift helicopters and gunships on the radio, and coordinated the effective use of all the helicopters' firepower, to shield the infantrymen, and to allow their pick up.
5 through 12 November 1966, ARCOM with "V" device: During Operation "Attleboro", He exposed himself to intense hostile ground fire and in many instances his aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire. He continuously placed the mission of the ground commander above his own personal safety and well being. His will to get the job done by flying exceptionally long hours within a hostile area is particularly noteworthy.
15 November 1966, Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart, and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star: Serving as airmobile mission commander during operation "Attleboro", airlifting a battalion of infantrymen into a Viet Cong stronghold, Major Rice demonstrated fearless and forceful leadership by maneuvering his aircraft into a very small and hotly contested landing zone. Though painfully wounded, operating a damaged aircraft, he continued leading his helicopter flight until the mission was completed. His dynamic leadership, initiative, and unquestionable valor in close combat in the face of superior numbers of hostile enemy, reflects everything that a leader should be.