Thad Coleman was born on June 30, 1918, in Eastman, Georgia. He graduated from the Georgia School of Technology (now Georgia Institute of Technology) in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1939, and enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on December 24, 1941. Coleman was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on August 11, 1942, and was designated a Naval Aviator at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, on October 27, 1942. After completing aircraft carrier qualification training and fighter training, he joined VF-3 (redesignated VF-6 in July 1943) at NAS San Diego, California, in March 1943, and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23) in August 1943, followed by the USS Intrepid (CV-11) in February 1944. LtJg Coleman was credited with the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before returning to the States in May 1944. He then joined VF-83 in June 1944, and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Essex from March to September 1945. During this time, LT Coleman was credited with the destruction of another 8 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, for a total of 10 destroyed in the air during World War II. His next assignment was with the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics from November 1945 to June 1948, followed by service as an Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander of Naval Operation Base Bermuda from June 1948 to July 1949. LCDR Coleman served with VP-7 from August 1949 to January 1951, and then attended General Line School at Monterey, California, from February to December 1951. He served as an Operations Officer with NAS Pensacola, Florida, from January 1952 to May 1953, and then as an Aide and Flag Secretary to the Commander, Fleet Air Jacksonville, Florida, from June 1953 to October 1954. His next assignment was as an F2H Banshee and F4D Skyray pilot, and as Executive Officer of VF-102 at NAS Jacksonville from November 1954 to May 1956. He remained with the squadron when it was redesignated VA-36, equipped with the F9F-8 Cougar, and moved to NAS Cecil Field, Florida, in May 1956; serving as its Commanding Officer from May 1956 to August 1957. CDR Coleman's next assignment was as Head of the First Class Committee at the U.S. Naval Academy from June 1957 to July 1959, followed by Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, from August 1959 to June 1960. He served as Commanding Officer of Carrier Air Group ELEVEN (CVG-11) from July 1960 to February 1962, and during this time was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) from July 1960 to March 1961, and USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) from August to November 1961. CAPT Coleman served as Executive Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt (CVA-42) from February 1962 to June 1963, followed by service on the Joint Staff in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon from July 1963 to June 1966. His next assignment was on temporary duty with the Bureau of Naval Personnel in July and August 1966, and then in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy from September 1966 to August 1967. CAPT Coleman served as Commanding Officer of the attack cargo ship USS Muliphen (AKA-61) from August 1967 to October 1968, and was Commanding Officer of NAS Cecil Field from November 1970 to July 1972. His final assignment was as Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander of Fleet Air, Jacksonville, from July 1972 until his retirement from the Navy on July 1, 1973. After retiring from the Navy, Thad worked for the Sverdrup Corporation in Jacksonville until retiring in 1983. Thad Coleman died on September 30, 1995.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron EIGHTY THREE, attached to the U.S.S. Essex, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Kyushu on April 7, 1945. Courageously piloting his plane against a Japanese Task Force including cruisers, destroyers and a battleship, Lieutenant Coleman braved intense antiaircraft fire to press home his attack on an enemy cruiser and, scoring a direct bomb hit, contributed materially to the sinking of the hostile warship immediately after the attack. His skill, courage and devotion to duty were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.