Tom Jaeger was born on April 4, 1945, spending his early years in Missouri. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on March 3, 1966. After completing basic and advanced infantry training, he attended Infantry Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a 2d Lt of Infantry on January 27, 1967. His first assignment was as Commanding Officer of Detachment A-46 with Company D of the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from March to October 1967. He was then reassigned to South Vietnam as Executive Officer of Detachment A-361, Company A of the 5th Special Forces Group from October 1967 to April 1968. Lt Jaeger served as a Platoon Leader and then Company Commander at Forward Operating Base #2 with the Special Operations Augmentation of the 5th Special Forces Group from April 1968 to July 1969. Lt. Jaeger was then reassigned to Fort Bragg, NC as Commanding Officer of Detachment B-6, 7th Special Forces from July to September 1969. His next assignment was as Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, 7th Special Forces Group and later as the 7th Group S-1 from September 1969 to February 1970. This was followed by service as Executive Officer of Detachment C-1 with Company A, 7th Special Forces Group from February to December 1970. During this time Capt Jaeger also served as the leader of Action Element #2 with the Blueboy Assault Group during the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to rescue American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam on November 21, 1970. He then served as Commanding Officer of Detachment B-9 with Company C, 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg from December 1970 to February 1971. Capt Jaeger then served in the 82d Airborne Division as the S-3 Air for the 1st Battallion, 504th Airborne Infranty Regiment and later as the Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion of the 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment from February 1971 to May 1972. Capt Jaeger next attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course from June 1972 to April 1973, followed by the degree completion program at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri, from April 1973 to August 1975. He then went to Germany as S-4 of the VII Corps Special Troops Battalion and later as the Assistant G-3 of Headquarters VII Corps from August 1975 to December 1978. Maj. Jaeger then served as an Infantry Battalion Advisor to the U.S. Army Reserve at Lake Charles, Louisiana, from January 1979 to January 1981, followed by attendance at the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from January to June 1981. He attended the Army Logistics University at Fort Lee, Virginia, from August to December 1981, and then served as a Logistics Staff Officer with U.S. Army Material Development and Readiness Command in Alexandria, Virginia, from December 1981 to April 1985. His final assignment was in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Army in the Pentagon from April 1985 until his retirement from the Army on May 1, 1986.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
Captain Jaeger distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions from 15 to 19 November 1968 as platoon leader and later as commander of a company consisting primarily of American-led Vietnamese paramilitary personnel during a reconnaissance-in-force operation deep within enemy territory. On the night of the fifteenth, a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force attacked with rifle grenade and automatic weapons fire, immediately causing six casualties. Braving the deadly fusillade, Captain Jaeger crawled to a seriously injured man and administered first aid. He next moved from position to position, encouraging his troops, treating their wounds, and calling in air strikes which forced the North Vietnamese to withdraw. Late in the afternoon of the eighteenth, the unit was ambushed by two enemy companies. Captain Jaeger, who had been placed in charge of his company on the sixteenth, quickly called for air support. Seeing a wounded Vietnamese soldier twenty meters away, he ran through a hail of bullets and administered life saving treatment. When he was told that one of his platoon leaders had been critically wounded, he crossed forty meters through a hail of bullets to assist the officer. He then directed air strikes within ten meters of his position to allow an ambulance helicopter to land, but the ship was hit by hostile fire and crashed in flames. Although he had been wounded by grenade shrapnel, Captain Jaeger ran to the aircraft with two other men and helped rescue the downed crew moments before the ship exploded. After assisting one of the injured men to his unit's perimeter, he again called in air strikes which enabled helicopters to evacuate the more seriously wounded. Realizing the enemy would probably try to overrun his company during the night, he continued to direct air strikes for fourteen hours, preventing the communists from massing for an attack and enabling his men to be extracted the next morning. Captain Jaeger's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.