Jack Tomes was born on September 26, 1933, in Owensboro, Kentucky. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, on May 24, 1955, and went on active duty beginning August 3, 1955. Lt Tomes next completed pilot training and was awarded his pilot wings at Greenville AFB, Mississippi, in September 1956, followed by F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training at Williams AFB, Arizona, from September 1956 to March 1957. His first assignment was as an F-100 Super Sabre pilot with the 494th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Chamont AB, France, from April 1957 to May 1960, and then as an F-105 Thunderchief pilot with the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, from May 1960 to July 1963. Capt Tomes then served as an F-105 pilot with the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg AB, West Germany, from July 1963 to April 1966, followed by service as an F-105 pilot with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from April 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 7, 1966. After spending 2,413 days in captivity, LtCol Tomes was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, and then served with the Air Force Human Resources Lab at Williams AFB, Arizona, from August 1973 to August 1974, followed by an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete his Master's degree from September 1974 to August 1976. His next assignment was with the Directorate of Personnel Program Actions at the Air Force Manpower and Personnel Center at Randolph AFB, Texas, from September 1976 to March 1980, and then as Director of Personnel Programs and Director of Assignments with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from April 1980 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 6, 1983. Jack Tomes died on December 29, 1984.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For the period September 1966: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force during the above period while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. Ignoring international agreements on treatment of prisoners of war, the enemy resorted to mental and physical cruelties to obtain information, confessions, and propaganda materials. This individual resisted their demands by calling upon his deepest inner strengths in a manner which reflected his devotion to duty and great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.