Retired Jan. 31, 1955. Died Nov. 1, 1968.
Thomas O. Hardin was born in Mexia, Texas, in 1894. He graduated from high school in Rockport, Texas, and later learned to fly. He was a civilian contract transport specialist with the Quartermaster Corps on the Mexican Punitive Expedition from March 1916, to January 1917. The next summer he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps and the following December went overseas. He returned from France in April 1919, and was discharged the following month.
In 1922, General Hardin was commissioned a second 1ieutenant in the Air Reserve and rated a pilot.
Until 1927, he was engaged in barnstorming and fixed base operations work in the Southwest. He then organized the Texas Air Transport, at Fort Worth, the first contract air mail company in Southwest, and served as vice president and general manager. Two years later, he set up the Southern Air Transport at Fort Worth, of which he was vice president and general manager. Later in 1929, these companies were merged with the Aviation Corporation, of New York City, and he was made director of operations of the corporation. In January 1930, he became general manager of the newly-organized American Airways (now American Airlines), with which he served until July, 1938, when President Roosevelt appointed him chairman of the Independent Air Safety Board.
Two years later he became vice president of Trans-World Airlines, in which capacity he served until 1941. During that time he was loaned to the Defense Supplies Corporation and made surveys of air transportation in Latin American Countries for the Civil Aeronautics Board. Later in 1941, along with others, he took over the German airlines in Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, on behalf of the War, Navy and State departments, and early the following year took over the German and Italian airlines in Brazil and Argentina for the same departments. In April 1942, he went to Africa and India to survey air transport requirements in the Middle and Far East.
On May 9, 1942 he went on active duty as a lieutenant colonel and 11 days later was promoted to colonel. He then joined the Middle East Wing of Air Transport Command in Africa, with which he served as assistant chief of staff for operations and deputy commander until June 1943. At that time the wing split up and he assumed command of the Central African Sector headquarters at Khartoum. Two months later he was sent to India to take over operations on the "Hump" as commander of the India-China sector of Air Transport Command. On Jan. 21, 1944, he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned to the China-India-Burma Division of Air Transport Command.
General Hardin, in September 1944, was assigned to command of the First Coast Wing of ATC, with headquarters at San Francisco, Calif. In April 1945, he was named commanding general of the Central Pacific Wing of Air Transport Command on Guam, where he remained until the end of World War II. On Sept. 20, 1945, he was relieved from active duty.
The following months General Hardin was executive vice president of Taca Airlines in Central and South America and in July, 1946, he was aviation consultant for several airline and manufacturing concerns in the United States and abroad.
On Oct. 10, 1947, he was recalled to duty with Air Transport Command and was separated from the service on June 15, 1948. Six days later he returned to active duty at Air Force headquarters as chief of the Air Reserve Division of the Civilian Components Group in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. He retained that position when the Air Reserve Division was transferred to the Office of the Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Reserve Forces in November 1948.
General Hardin, in October 1950, was appointed Director of Technical Inspection, Office of the Inspector General, at Norton Air Force Base, San Bernardino, Calif.
General Hardin has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Army Commendation Ribbon, and Chinese Certificate of Merit. He is rated a senior pilot.