Who is Tom Koritz?
By Sonic Johnson, 14 Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 02, 2013
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 14th Medical Group clinic at Columbus AFB, like many base streets and facilities, is named in honor of an Airman or individual closely tied to the base. Koritz Clinic was named in honor of Maj. Tom "Teek" Koritz during a ceremony in 2008.
Koritz was one of 42 pilots in Undergraduate Pilot Training class 82-01 that earned their silver wings October 8, 1982 at Columbus AFB, Miss. and the first pilot physician that went through pilot training as a doctor first.
"I was the Flight Commander for Hawk Flight in the 50th Flying Training Squadron when then 2nd Lt. Koritz went through," said Mr. Hud Hudnall, 14th Student Squadron Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) Simulator Instructor. "He was a great pilot and great guy. I remember working to get him special permission to work in the Emergency Room at the hospital downtown on the weekends because he just wanted to help out."
While all the other pilot physicians earned their pilot wings first then became doctors mostly due to the maximum age requirement to finish pilot training, Koritz was able to not only complete residency before UPT, but excelled in the cockpit as well.
He started his USAF aviation career in the F-15C Eagle after pilot training and was the Top Gun of his F-15 training class at Luke AFB, Ariz. His last assignment was with the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron "Chiefs" Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. flying the F-15E Strike Eagle.
His squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm, to liberate Kuwait from the invading Iraqi forces. On the second night of Desert Storm, his squadron was selected to fly a mission against an oil refinery in Basrah, Iraq. A six-ship F-15E formation was planned to attack a heavily defended oil refinery in Basrah, defended with SA 3, SA-6, SA-8s surface to air missiles and 23MM and 57MM anti-aircraft artillery including the much respected ZSU-23-4.
On January 16, 1991, Koritz and his back-seater Lt. Col. Donnie Holland were shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire after dropping their bombs on the target. Initially reported as Missing in Action, their bodies were later returned and their status changed to Killed in Action.
The 14th Medical Group clinic was renamed the Koritz Clinic in a ceremony on January 11, 2008, nearly 17 years after he was shot down. The 4th Medical Clinic at Seymour Johnson AFB was also dedicated to Koritz on August 6, 1993. The Rochelle, Ill. airport, Koritz' home town and where he began his flying career in 1969, were named Koritz Field in his honor on July 4, 1991.
Maj. Tom Koritz is survived by his wife and three sons. One of those sons, 2nd Lt. Jon Koritz, is scheduled to graduate from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB August 16.