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Colonel Thomas Doherty Byrne

Obituary for Colonel Thomas Doherty Byrne

January 12, 1928 - June 20, 2018
Lewes, Delaware | Age 90

Obituary

Colonel Thomas Doherty Byrne, age 90, passed away peacefully at his home on June 20, 2018 surrounded by his family. Born on January 12, 1928 in North East, MD, he was the son of the late Russell F. and Frances M. (Lawrence) Byrne.

Tom graduated from high school in Havre de Grace, MD. In January of 1946, he enlisted in the US Army and served in Camp Lee, VA, the Army of Occupation in Germany, Ft Jackson, SC, and Camp Chaffee, AR. He was honorably discharged in January of 1949 and went on to work at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Edgewood Arsenal in MD. He also graduated from the National Academy of Broadcasting in Washington, DC and was then employed as a radio announcer and disc jockey.

As a member of the Army Reserve, he was recalled to active duty in January 1951 during the Korean War as a Broadcast Journalist and Public Informational Officer in Indiantown Gap, PA. From there he went to Officer Candidate School in Ft Benning, GA. In November of 1952 he was commissioned a 2LT of Infantry. He was a Training Company Commanding Officer in Camp Breckinridge, KY. In December of 1953, he married Phyllis McCommons. Tom left for Korea in January of 1954 and was a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Assistant Public Information Officer of the 25th Infantry Division in both Korea and Schofield Barracks, HI. He moved to the Weapons Department in Ft Benning, GA in November of 1957 where he was on the Machinegun Committee and took Infantry Advanced Courses. Moving to Ft Sill, OK in 1960, he worked as an instructor in Tactics and Combined Arms at Artillery School.

He attended Omaha University and completed his degree. He then moved to Ft Hood, TX to the 1st Armored Division for a successful two year stint as Commanding Officer for Company A 46th Armored Infantry Battalion and later assistant G3 of 1st Armored Division. In January of 1964 Tom moved to Ft Bragg, NC to take the Military Assistance Training Advisor Course. He served in Vietnam with the Military Assistance Advisory Group and then transitioned into Military Assistance Command J3 where he advised Vietnam staff officers. In this time, Tom established and conducted a week-long school for incoming US officers destined to be advisors to Vietnam District Chiefs/Battalion Commanding Officers.

Tom's first of three Pentagon tours began in April of 1965 in the Office of Army Chief of Information. In April 1968 he moved on to the Armed Forces Staff College and then to the Battalion Commander at Ft Campbell, KY. Tom went back to the Pentagon in May of 1969 and worked in the Public Affairs Office of Secretary of Defense where he and Tip Marlowe shared the duty of spokesmen for the My Lai situation.

In January of 1972 he went back to Vietnam for duty as Chief Service Military Advisory Command Vietnam Training Directorate. In June of that same year, he was selected as Regimental Senior Advisor with the Army Republic of Vietnam 53rd Infantry Regiment, 23rd Division in the area of Kontum, Dak To, Dak Pek, etc. In January of 1973 he returned to the Public Affairs Office of Secretary of Defense as Chief of the Southeast Asia Division where he participated in the planning and execution of Operation Home Coming – the return of our POWs. He later served as Chief of News Division and upon promotion to Colonel, was named Director of Defense Information. He retired from that position on August 31, 1977.

After his retirement, Tom spent two years doing not-too-serious job searches, which was followed by several years as a Washington Representative (lobbyist) for two large packaging companies. From 1983 to 1994 he served as Director of Public Affairs for the Association of the US Army.

In 1994, Tom and his wife moved from Washington to their summer home on the Delaware Bay. Tom spent many hours fishing, crabbing, gardening, attending church and Rotary Club, and being involved in Republican political activities.

Tom is survived by his wife, Phyllis McCommons Byrne of Lewes, DE; brother, Russell F. Byrne (Elizabeth) of Newnan, GA; sister, Mary Lou Cengia of Virginia Beach, VA; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, great nephews, and great nieces. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his brother, Jack Robinson, and sisters, Jean Engelhardt and Anna May Johnson.

A celebration of Tom's life will be held at 1pm on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at Bethel United Methodist Church, 129 W. 4th Street, Lewes, DE 19958. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made payable to "Bethel United Methodist Church" and sent in care of R.T. Foard Funeral Home, P.A., PO Box 248, Rising Sun, MD 21911.

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R.T. Foard Funeral Home, P.A.

318 George Street
P.O. Box 27
Chesapeake City, MD 21915
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