Thadd Blanton was born on February 25, 1919, in Archer City, Texas. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on November 25, 1940, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Moffett Field, California, on July 11, 1941. Lt Blanton served as a B-25 pilot with the 37th Bomb Squadron of the 17th Bomb Group at Pendleton Field, Oregon, from July 1941 until he was selected for the Doolittle Mission in February 1942. Capt Blanton was the co-pilot on the 12th B-25 to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) on April 18, 1942, and after bombing its assigned targets in Yokohama, Japan, the crew bailed out over China when their aircraft ran out of fuel. His next assignment was as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 7th Bomb Group in Karachi, India, from April to September 1942, followed by service as a B-25 pilot with the 341st Bomb Group at Chakulia, India, from September 1942 to July 1943. Maj Blanton served as a B-17 pilot with the 430th Bomb Squadron and then the 99th Bomb Squadron of the 9th Bomb Group at Pinecastle Field, Florida, from July 1943 to February 1944, and then as a B-17 instructor pilot at Pinecastle Field from March 1944 to June 1945. His next assignment was as a B-17 pilot, Assistant Project Officer, and Officer in Charge of the Special Weapons Section with the 621st Army Air Force Base Unit at Pinecastle Field from July 1945 to October 1946, followed by service as a Test Officer, Executive Officer, and Operations Officer with the 1st Experimental Guided Missile Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida, from November 1946 to July 1949. Lt Col Blanton served as an Operations Officer and Missile Development Officer with the 550th Guided Missile Wing at Eglin AFB and then at Patrick AFB, Florida, from July 1949 to December 1950, and then as a Missile Development Officer with the 4800th Guided Missile Wing at Patrick from December 1950 to May 1951. His next assignment was as a Missile Development Officer and Project Officer with the 6550th Missile Wing at Patrick AFB from May to September 1951, followed by service as Director of Tactical Training, Pilotless Aircraft Officer, and Chief of the Training Branch with Headquarters Air Force Missile Test Center at Patrick AFB from September 1951 to August 1954. He served as a pilot and Ground Electronics Officer with the 6550th Operations Squadron and the 6550th Air Base Group at Patrick from August 1954 to June 1955, and then as Commander of Grand Bahama Auxiliary AFB, Bahamas, from June to December 1955. Lt Col Blanton was a patient at the 6550th Air Force Hospital at Patrick AFB from December 1955 to September 1956, and then served as Chief of Plans and Programs and as Assistant Base Plans Officer with the 6550th Air Base Group at Patrick from September 1956 to September 1958. His next assignment was as Chief of the Missile Branch with Headquarters 13th Air Force at Clark AB in the Philippines from September 1958 to February 1959, followed by service as Commander of the Headquarters Squadron Section with 13th Air Force at Clark AB from February to November 1959. Lt Col Blanton served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of 13th Air Force from November 1959 to June 1960, and he then was a patient at the Air Force Hospital at Clark AB and then at Lackland AFB, Texas, from June 1960 until he was medically retired from the Air Force on November 15, 1960. Thadd Blanton died on September 27, 1961, and was buried at the Fairview Cemetery in Gainesville, Texas.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese Mainland on April 18, 1942. Captain Blanton volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Captain Blanton and the military services.