Former Pickens Resident earns USAF Academy Distinguished Service Award

COLORADO — Former Pickens resident named Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy

Dr. Thomas Eller

Dr. Thomas Eller

Dr. Thomas J. Eller (Tom Eller) lived in Pickens from 1946 through 1955. He graduated third in his class from Pickens High School in 1955 having served as President of the Student Body. He attended Furman University for two years, standing second in his class and having been designated the Outstanding ROTC Cadet in the 3rd Army Region in May 1957.

Eller was appointed to the third class to enter the Air Force Academy by Congressman Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn, entering in 1957 and graduating third in his class in 1961. He subsequently earned a MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Eller flew as a pilot in the Air Force and served as a professor at the Air Force Academy for many years. Following his retirement from the Air Force, he worked in the aerospace and telecommunications industries.

In 2015 Eller was designated a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Academy. To date, there have been only 28 graduates so designated out of 47,000 graduates. Tom and the other award recipient were honored at the Founders Day Banquet and at the Founders Day Parade on 10 and 11 April.

Each Distinguished Graduate is honored by a bronze plaque atop a granite obelisk on the trail of heroes at the Air Force Academy.