Wesley E. Thoms helped to save Lud R. Tucker from burning and an explosion, Lynchburg, Virginia, June 26, 1961. When the monoplane he was piloting crash-landed in a meadow, Tucker, Marine Corps major, and a Marine Corps captain in the other cockpit seat suffered severe injuries and lost consciousness. As flames broke out on the engine, a third man In the rear compartment climbed out, suffering from shock. Wesley, 45, carpenter, and his brother, Roy B., ran 300 feet to the airplane, Wesley going to the pilot’s side of the craft. Roy ran to where the captain, who by then had revived, was climbing out of the cockpit. He told Roy to help Tucker and warned of a possible explosion of the fuel tank, which was located under the cockpit seats and contained 300 gallons of gasoline. Meanwhile Wesley had climbed onto the wing of the airplane and moved to alongside the cockpit, where Tucker was inert and bleeding from a head laceration. Standing within three feet of gusts of flames on the engine, Wesley reached into the cockpit and with great effort pulled Tucker to a position draped over the edge. By that time Roy had run around the front of the airplane and climbed onto the wing beside Wesley, who was having difficulty in freeing Tucker. Within two feet of the flames, Roy took hold of Tucker and aided Wesley in lifting him from the cockpit. Several minutes later an explosive spread of flames 15 to 20 feet high enveloped the craft, which was completely destroyed. The captain and Tucker were hospitalized for their injuries and recovered.
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