Tom Pyle was born in 1934 in Wilmington, Delaware. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on April 22, 1954, and was assigned to the 1st AMTRAKS, 3rd Marine Division and School Demonstration Troops at Quantico, Virginia. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on April 21, 1957, and continued in the Marine Corps Reserve until April 1959, when he entered the Air Force as a navigator aviation cadet. He completed training and was commissioned a 2Lt in the U.S. Air Force on June 8, 1960. After more training, Pyle's first assignment was to a B-52 Stratofortress combat crew at Clinton-Sherman AFB, Oklahoma, where he served as an Electronics Warfare Officer from July 1, 1963, until May 1963 when he received orders to the Wild Weasel Program. Pyle began flying combat missions in the F-105F Thunderchief with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, in July 1966. He was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery on August 7, 1966, and was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War by the North Vietnamese. After spending 2,401 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. Col Pyle retired from the Air Force on November 1, 1976.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Captain Thomas S. Pyle II distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Kep Airfield, North Vietnam on 7 August 1966. On that date, Captain Pyle was the Electronic Warfare Officer in the lead F-105 of a two ship hunter killer team assigned to patrol the heavily defended Kep Airfield area in search of hostile surface-to-air missile sites. Despite encountering adverse weather and heavy hostile defenses, Captain Pyle pressed the attack with complete disregard for his own personal safety. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Pyle has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.