Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free


Tom Dillant


Date and Place of Birth: 1920 Keene, New Hampshire
Date and Place of Death: March 17, 1942 Myrtle Beach Army Air Field, South Carolina
Baseball Experience: College
Position: Catcher
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Military Unit: USAAF
Area Served: United States


Thomas D "Tom" Dillant was born in Keene, New Hampshire in 1920. Dillant played baseball at Keene High School and was on the varsity team at Keene Teachers College (now Keene State College), winning the New England Teachers' College Conference championship in 1939.


Dillant was part of the Civilian Pilot Training Group at Keene in 1939 and when he entered military service in 1941, it was with the Army Air Force. Dillant trained as a fighter pilot, and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Foster Field, Victoria, Texas in February 1942.



On March 17, 1942, Second Lieutenant Dillant lost his life attempting an emergency landing in a Bell P-39F Airacobra at Myrtle Beach Army Air Field in South Carolina. He was 25 years old.


"The first death [of a Keene student] was particularly hard to take," wrote James G Smart in Striving: Keene Sate College 1909/1984. "A Keene native, he had been in many school musicals, had been a catcher for the baseball team, and had been president of his class. He had civilian pilot training here, and was killed in a forced landing off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The last words to his class (1941) were: 'Let education be every man's lantern, common sense his path, and success will be his destiny.' It is often said that war draws off from a country its best blood and brains. It seemed to be true. His memorial was the airport in North Swanzey dedicated to him and Edwin Hopkins, the first Swanzey youth to die in uniform."


Thanks to Robert J Madden at Keene State College for help with this biography.


Added October 23, 2006. Updated November 29, 2006.

Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.