Thomas A. “Tom” Flaherty Jr., passed away peacefully at home in Tinton Falls on April 10 at the age of 98. He is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Mary. Born in Jersey City on March 30, 1919, he is survived by his son, Tom Flaherty (and Joy Wodziak) of Morristown; his daughters, Maureen (and Richard) Fox of Columbia, South Carolina, Joanne Dean of Red Bank, Barbara (and Stephen) O’Rourke of New Fairfield, Connecticut, and Susan (and Leo) Kinslow of Red Bank; as well as nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Tom was one of six siblings. He is survived by his sister, Sheila McPherson of Rutherford and was predeceased by his sisters, Eileen Sheridan, Helen Kelly, Regina O’Brien, and Rosemary McAndrew.
Tom graduated from St. Aloysius High School in Jersey City in 1937 and from St. Peters College in 1941 with a BS in chemistry.
After graduation, Tom enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and served as an officer and Wing Bombardier in the 506th and 44th Bomber Groups and the 93rd Combat Wing of the Eighth Air Force during World War II, flying on B-17s and B-24s. Tom was in the first echelon of air crews sent overseas in 1942 and was stationed in North Africa, Italy and England throughout World War II. Tom was the lead bombardier for his group and he was on the famous “Operation Tidal Wave,” a long-distance, low-level raid on the Ploesti, Romania oil refinery in August 1, 1943 for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
During Tom’s distinguished combat service, he attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and he flew on over 60 combat missions. He received numerous decorations, including the Silver Star medal and the Oak Leaf Cluster addition to the DFC, as well as two Presidential Citations. During his multiple tours of duty during World War II, Tom flew on several raids on the sub pens along the Atlantic coast of France and many missions over Germany, including the submarine works in Kiel, raids over Hamburg, and many other military and industrial targets. He flew on missions supporting the invasion of Italy, D-Day, and the Market Garden mission at Arnhem, Netherlands. He was truly a fine example of “the Greatest Generation” who kept his own counsel and seldom spoke of his experiences during the war.
Following his return stateside, Tom married the love of his life, Mary Therese Doyle, in 1947. He worked for Western Electric and then began his career for the in the U. S. Army Signal Corps and the Communications Systems Agency at Fort Monmouth, from which he retired in 1979 as chief of programs branch.
Tom was a longtime resident of Red Bank for over 50 years before moving to Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls in 2003.
Tom enjoyed decades of traveling abroad with his wife, Mary, and vacationing in Sanibel and Siesta Key, Florida. He was an avid reader throughout his life and was always well-informed with an encyclopedic knowledge of historic and current events.
Tom was a devoted family man and took great joy in his grandchildren and great grandchildren, always cherishing time with his family. Tom was a kind, generous, good-natured and quiet-spoken man who lived his life to the fullest and was a great husband and father. He will be missed by all who knew him, but his memory will live on in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial gathering will be held at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St., Red Bank, on May 20 from 2 to 5 p.m.
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