Santa Paula Times

Col. Thomas A. Rafferty, Class of 1930

December 18, 2002
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #187 (Have you submitted yours?)Thomas G. (’08) and Merle Rafferty had two children, Thomas A. (’30) and his little sister Lucy (’32). Tom was a typical little boy, and Lucy remembers him grabbing her dolly from her and breaking the head off it. The children attended Mupu School and had, among other teachers, Charlotte Reese Yarbrough (’21).At SPUHS our subject played the part of Joe Grimbel in the operetta “The Golden Trail.” His performance was not exactly an Academy Award presentation - during the course of the operetta Tom tripped and fell through the backdrop. So much for his thespian career. Tom played the saxophone with Norb Duarte (’31) in the orchestra and band, under H. Peyton Johnson.He found his niche in sports. Tom was a member of the baseball, basketball and football teams. The coach was Stan Summers, and some of his teammates were Lee Clearwater, Ben Taketa and Bill Cochran. They won several games and taught the next class as well, as the school had championship teams the following year. Tom was a member of the Letterman’s Club, serving as secretary/treasurer.Following graduation Tom went to UCLA and was a member of the rugby and football teams, serving as captain. He graduated from UCLA and returned to Santa Paula to work as a chemist for the California Fruit Growers Laboratory.Tom was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Infantry Reserves, and was called into active duty in 1941. He was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for Advanced Infantry Training, and was assigned to the 71st Division. Tom was sent to Europe for combat in France and Germany. He was wounded, but continued his mission which he completed successfully. On another mission he volunteered to remove some wounded men from a battlefield, which he did. For these deeds Tom received the Purple Heart, the Silver Star with Oak-Leaf Cluster, and the Bronze Star Medal with Oak-Leaf Cluster.
Tome returned stateside and received integration into the regular Army. He helped coach the 71st Division football team. Tom was next sent to Sendai, Japan with the 11th Airborne Division, earned his parachutist rating, and was promoted to major. His next assignment was to serve as provost marshal in Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for Command and General Staff School.In 1954 Tom was transferred to Bepplu, Kyushu, Japan, continuing as battalion commander. Here he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was then assigned to the intelligence unit SOFFE in Tokyo. In 1956 Tom was assigned to West Point Military Academy as an associate professor of Military Art and Engineering. This duty was followed by the Presidio in Monterey to study Thai language; here he was promoted to colonel. He was then sent to Thailand as an advisor to the Thai Army until he was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia with the Test and Evaluation Command. His next assignment was to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Aberdeen, Maryland for testing and evaluation of small arms. From there he went to Baltimore, Maryland to serve as advisor to the Maryland National Guard where, in 1966, he retired with the rank of colonel.Tom married Lois Mullins of Westwood, whom me met at UCLA. They had two daughters, Patty and Kelly. Lois and the girls were able to travel with Tom to many of his assignments, including Japan.On retirement Tom and his family returned to Santa Paula, where he managed the family farm until it was sold and he and Lois moved into town. Tom enjoyed his retirement playing tennis with his friends Milt Teague, Jim Sharp and Roy Wilson, Jr. and Sr. until his passing in 1994.