Thurston Richard Baxter

NO. 17722  •  9 December 1928 - 31 December 1952

Missing in action. Changed to: killed in action 31 December 1952, aged 24 years.


DICK BAXTER was born 9 December 1928 at Fort Sam Houston Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. His parents, Lieutenant Thurston H. Baxter and Mina O'Bryan Baxter were stationed at Brooks Field, Texas where his father was assigned as a flying instructor. Dick's childhood was spent at various Army Air Corps stations until, in 1939, his father was assigned to the office of the chief of the Air Corps, and Dick became a Washingtonian. There he reached the senior rank in scouting, Eagle Scout, in only two years, and in 1946 he graduated from St. Alban's School.

This background had several effects on Dick's future life. First of all, not yet 18 when he entered, lie was one of the youngest members of the Class of 1950, a class that had a large number of older and experienced veterans. If, in the competitive environment of cadet life, this put him at some disadvantage, his background also gave him two offsetting advantages. One was an excellent academic preparation, so that was never a serious problem to him. The second, and more important, advantage was his driving determination that he would fly as an officer in the Air Force.

An intensely private person, only his roommates really came close to knowing him. They recall his keenly competitive nature, a puckish sense of humor, and a determination to be himself. One roommate recalls his competitive nature in a situation which arose as to who should have the right to pursue the affections of a blonde model who had attracted their attention. The matter was settled by a race over the obstacle course in the gym. Dick won by a few seconds, but it soon turned out that Dick hadn't been that interested in the young lady to begin with.

Then there was the time he returned from leave with a stuffed teddy bear, which he decreed would be displayed on the mantlepiece as his mascot. The Tac, however, on an inspection when Dick was not room orderly, made it clear that there was a penalty associated with this display of individuality. His roommates, especially the one who had absorbed the gig, negotiated a treaty with him that the mascot would occupy its place of honor only when Dick was room orderly. Thereafter, with some circumspection as to when the Tac was likely to be around, the mascot continued to hold its post during Dick's turns as room orderly.

After graduation, Dick achieved his lifetime ambition, entering the Air Force, completing basic flight training, and going on to advanced training in F-51 Mustangs at Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama. While at Craig, he met and married Anne Jo Ross. After only a month of married life he left for Korea and duty with the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 18th Fighter Wing. There, on 21 December 1951, on a dive­bombing mission, his aircraft impacted the ground, presumably as a result of ground fire, in a crash that he was unlikely to have survived. No report of him as a prisoner of war was ever received, and no remains were returned. He was declared dead on 31 December 1952.

His memorial is a plaque in the Chapel of St. Alban's School. Its inscription reads:

"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old.

"Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

"At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

"We will remember them."

The thought that can be added to that is that Dick Baxter died in the achievement of his life's ambition.

- Frank King