Thomas Campbell was born on July 15, 1931. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on January 4, 1951, and was trained in electronics and camera repair. After serving a short tour in Korea, Campbell was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Program on April 17, 1952, receiving a commission as a 2d Lt and his pilot wings at Williams AFB, Arizona, on May 1, 1953. He served as a fighter pilot from May 1953 to January 1956, and then served in the Air Force Reserve from January 8, 1956, to June 2, 1957. Campbell then served as an instructor pilot with the 3641st Pilot Training Squadron and the 3640th Pilot Training Group at Laredo AFB, Texas, from June 1957 to January 1961. After completing Aircraft Maintenance Officer training, Capt Campbell served with the 1625th Support Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, England, from September 1961 to October 1964. He then served with the 3617th Pilot Training Squadron and the 3615th Pilot Training Wing at Craig AFB, Alabama, from October 1964 to January 1968. After completing A-1 Skyraider Combat Crew Training, Maj Campbell served with the 602nd Special Operations Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, and then at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from February 1968 to January 1969. He then completed KC-135 Strototanker Combat Crew Training and served with the 46th Air Refueling Squadron at K.I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan, from June 1969 to January 1971. Col Campbell's final assignment was with the 410th Bomb Wing, also at K.I. Sawyer, where he served from January 1971 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 31, 1972.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, awards the Air Force Cross to Major Thomas A. Campbell for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an A-1E Skyraider Pilot in Southeast Asia on 2 June 1968. On that date, Major Campbell led a successful search and rescue effort for a downed Navy pilot near the Ho Chi Minh Trail. After his aircraft had been hit by ground fire, he remained in the area for an hour directing aircraft strikes. He voluntarily risked his life on repeated passes to protect the rescue helicopter and suppress hostile gun positions. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Major Campbell reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.