In lieu of flowers
It is with great sadness that the family of CAPT Thomas J. Bernsen, Jr., USN (ret.), announces the passing of their beloved husband, father, grandfather, and combat veteran, on January 3rd, 2023.
Born December 13, 1948, in St. Louis, MO, he grew up in a sailing family in Long Beach, CA. After graduating from CSU Long Beach with a BA in Mathematics, Thom dedicated his life to serving his country as a Navy helicopter pilot and test pilot.
Sea assignments included Helicopter Anti Submarine Squadron TWO (HS-2) in Imperial Beach, CA, involving service aboard USS Enterprise, in HS-2 Det One, Vietnam. Highlights include numerous rescues during Operation Linebacker II and later being a primary pilot for the initial flights into North Viet Nam during Operation End Sweep to negotiate de-mining Haiphong Harbor. Captain Bernsen served as an instructor at Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron TEN (HS-10), a department head with HS-8, on staff with Carrier Air Wing FIFTEEN (CVW-15), and commanded HS-4 aboard USS Carl Vinson in WestPac. Ashore, Captain Bernsen attended the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, MD, and later became Director of the Test Pilot School and Commanding Officer of the Systems Engineering Test Directorate there. Notable projects included primary Test Pilot for the initial test article of the SH-60B Seahawk. Captain Bernsen retired from Fleet Aviation Specialized Operational Training Group Pacific (FASOTRAGRUPAC), at NAS North Island in June 1994, after 26 years in uniform. Over his career, he amassed over 4,000 flight hours in 50 aircraft.
Captain Bernsen’s Post Navy positions included being a Director for Horizons Technology Inc., Senior Director SAIC Corporation, COO for National Dispatch Center, Inc. in San Diego, and owner/operator of Dryer Vent Wizard, all while cultivating his love for German sports cars.
Thom was a devoted husband and a proud father and grandfather. Thom and Linda made their home in Point Loma, CA, where they enjoyed many happy years together. He was known for his sharp mind, quick wit, keen sense of humor, and ability to find the silver lining in any situation. He was an avid sailor and loved nothing more than being out on the water, a calling he passed on to his two children, Eric and Lauren. Thom was a master of the deadpan and could keep a straight face even when delivering the corniest of dad-jokes. He was as sharp as a naval officer's sword and could express an entire conversation through a single look.
Thom will be deeply missed by all who knew him, but his memory will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. Thom is survived by his wife, Linda, children, Eric and Lauren, and four grandchildren, Charlie, Havana, Jack, and Zoe.
Please join us in honoring Thom's service and legacy. (Please also be advised that we are trolling good Thom stories and tall tales of heroism.)
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I wish so much that I could be with you at Tom’s Memorial to help celebrate his amazing legacy and life well…
I wish so much that I could be with you at Tom’s Memorial to help celebrate his amazing …
I wish so much that I could be with you at Tom’s Memo…