LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Southern Nevada veterans will relive some of their war experiences when they leave to tour war memorials in Washington D.C. this weekend.

“I think that’s an honor to do this, and I’m pleased to go,” said Thomas Pearson.

Pearson, who lives in Summerlin, participated in WWI, the Vietnam and Korean Wars as well as the Cold War. Pearson says during the Cold War, which involved tensions between nuclear superpowers the U.S. and Soviet Union, he flew readiness missions in the states in B52 bombers. Crews would set up their aircraft where they could be taxing in one minute.

“We could sometimes carry four atomic bombs,” said Pearson.

FOX5 asked Pearson if he thought they would have to drop atomic bombs.

“Well, we were ready to use them. You didn’t look forward to using them because you knew how much destructive power it had. You thought about some of the targets that we had that would wipe little towns completely off the map,” said Pearson.

He added, “I flew over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the way into Japan just to see the destruction and there was nothing there.”

Pearson said he grew up on a farm in rural Alabama and says he always wanted to fly. He passed an exam while in high school that allowed him to start flight training without going to college. At age 19, in 1944, he was already a flight commander with a crew of ten people. While in the Air Force, during the end of WWII, Pearson flew sea rescue training missions off the coast of Japan in a B17.

“You would drop the boat to them, and it was fully provided with everything they needed to get out of the enemy territory,” said Pearson.

During the Korean War Pearson flew readiness mission back in the states in a B52. And during the Vietnam war Pearson flew KC135 tankers that refueled fighter jets and other aircraft. He also served as an instructor pilot in bombing runs over North Vietnam. He explained watching the payload after it left the B52.

“As we were turning, I could see the bombs going off as they hit the ground,” said Pearson.

FOX5 asked about witnessing that.

“Well, you knew they were working,” said Pearson.

Pearson is going on the trip with Honor Flight Southern Nevada this weekend with another WWII veteran, and Vietnam and Korean War veterans.

The group leaves Friday and will return on Sunday. FOX5 is also going on the trip. Look for continuing reports on air and online at


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