Retired Oct. 14, 1963. Died Aug. 1, 1974.
Thomas J. Gent Jr. was born in Oil City, Pa., in 1911. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1931 and graduated with the class of 1935.
Lieutenant Gent was awarded his pilot's wings in 1936 and in the next seven years served tours of duty as a pilot, general's aide, group commander, instructor pilot, base operations officer and executive officer.
He attended England's Royal Air Force Central Flying School and was assigned to the West Coast Training Center Headquarters at Santa Ana, Calif., in 1942. The following year he was reassigned to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Air for War.
Upon completion of a transition course in the B-24 bomber, he was appointed commander of the 302nd Bombardment Group. In 1944 Colonel Gent was named commander of the 449th Bombardment Group with the Fifteenth Air Force in Europe. During the next year he flew 46 combat missions and accumulated 250 combat hours in the B-24 aircraft.
After the war, he commanded the 28th Bombardment Group at Grand Island, Neb., and Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Returning to the United States, he was named 50th Bombardment Wing commander and continued in that position when the unit was redesignated as the 28th Bombardment Wing.
In July of 1949 he graduated from the Air War College and was assigned command of the 550th Guided Missile Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. In 1950 he was transferred to the U.S. Atomic Proving Grounds at Eniwetok where he worked on Project Greenhouse until 1951 when he was named to attend the National War College. This schooling was followed by a tour of duty at the U.S. Military Academy and assignment as vice commander of the Pacific Air Force.
General Gent was reassigned in 1956 as commander of the 314th Air Division in Korea with additional duty as deputy commander of the 5th Air Force. In 1956 and again in 1957, he served six-month tours as an Air Force member of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission.
In 1957 General Gent was named deputy director of Manpower and Organization and deputy chief of staff for Operations at the Pentagon. He was named director of Manpower and Organization in 1959, a post he held until 1961 when he was assigned command of the 32nd Air Division at Oklahoma City, Okla.
General Gent's decorations and medals include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Croix de Guerre with palm and the Guided Missile insignia.