Thomas Ballard Ellison was born in Nixon, Texas, on July 28, 1914, son of Louis F. and Mary Beulah (Ballard) Ellison. After graduation from the University of Texas in 1938 he entered the Naval Aviation Program, completed flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator and commissioned Ensign to date from November 1, 1939. By subsequent advancement he attained the rank of Captain, his date of rank November 1, 1958.
From December 1939 until July 1942 he was assigned to Torpedo Squadron FIVE as Personnel Officer, and with that squadron participated in the first Carrier Raids on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands and the Battle of the Coral Sea. “For extraordinary heroism and courageous devotion to duty as pilot of an airplane of (his) Torpedo Squadron in offensive action against enemy Japanese forces at Tulagi Harbor on May 4, 1942, and in the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 7 and 8, 1942. . .” he was awarded the Navy Cross. The citation states that he “contributed to the sinking of one enemy carrier and the sinking or severe damaging of another carrier and at least eight other enemy vessels.”
Returning to the United States he served as Torpedo Training Officer at the Naval Air Station, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from September 1942 until June 1944, and there commissioned and assumed command of Torpedo Squadron TWELVE, completely formed of pilots and aircrewmen trained there. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for “conspicuous gallantry to USS Randolph, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Tokyo, Japan, on February 17, 1945. . .” and three Air Medals through May 1945. (Two additional awards of the Air Medal were for previous service with Torpedo Squadron FIVE.)
After serving ten months as Executive Officer of the Air Support Control Unit TWO, he entered the General Line School, Newport, Rhode Island in July 1946 and was graduated in May 1947. He spent the next year at Corpus Christi, Texas, as Personnel Officer on the Staff of Chief Naval Air Advanced Training Command, and served for another year as Operations Officer for the Naval Air Bases in the Sixth Naval District, headquarters at Jacksonville, Florida. In May 1949 he assumed command of Scouting Squadron THIRTY TWO, and a year later was detached for dutyas Operations Officer of USS Salerno Bay.
He had staff duty from August 1952 until December 1955, first as Personnel Officer for the Naval Air Basic Training Command, and from August 1954 as Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Utility Wings, Atlantic. As Military Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Utility Wings, Joint Task Force SEVEN, he participated in Operation REDWING in 1957, and from August of that year until June of the next he was a student (senior course) at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. He next had a tour of duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, as Head, Technical Training Branch, and in July 1960 became Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Facility, Naples, Italy.
During the period August 1962 to July 1965 he served as Director, Military Personnel Security Division, and as Director, Officer Performance Division, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department, Washington, DC. He is presently commanding the Naval Air Techical Training Center, at the Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Silver Star Medal and Air Medal with four Gold Stars, Captain Ellison has the American Defense Service Medal; with Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; National Defense Service Medal and the Korean Service Medal.
Hed died November 30, 2005.