103-year-old Springfield WWII veteran dies days before his birthday

A 103-year-old Springfield World War II veteran who flew missions over Europe as a B-17 tail gunner died Tuesday.

Thomas Eubanks would have turned 104 on Sunday.

“He meant the world to everybody that knew him,” Kevin Black, Eubanks’ grandson, said. “He meant the world to everybody that was around him... he meant the world to me.”

Eubanks dropped out of high school in 10th grade, Black said. He was a teenager during the Great Depression and had to work to help his family survive. He was a World War II veteran in the Army Air Corps.

Black said after the war, his grandfather worked and retired from Springfield as a city building inspector. After retirement, his grandparents would visit Montana frequently. Black said his grandmother, Eubanks’ wife Sue, died in 2000.

ExploreFormer Northwestern baseball coach dies at 44 after three-year cancer battle

“He was a self-taught architect, home builder and gunsmith. He built and designed homes and worked for the city,” he said. “He helped so many people with home projects, even in his 90s, he was helping with a church remodel. He showed me how to shoot a gun for the first time since he was a gunsmith. He taught me how to rope a horse.”

Eubanks, who had a full hip replacement right before his 102 birthday, also liked to fish and spend time with family.

“He was always outgoing and a very active guy,” Black said.

Eubanks had lived in an independent nursing home in Springfield before he tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020 for the first time. He then went to live at Forest Glen Health Campus before he eventually tested positive for COVID-19 again a couple of weeks ago.

“He was very active, even at 103 years old,” Black said. “Even at his age at 103, he knew every grandkid, every great-grandkid, every great-great-grandkid. He knew them all, knew all of their names. He could even tell in-depth stories of World War II.”

ExploreRELATED: Springfield WWII veteran recognized in 2020 by Ohio’s Hospice for his service

In 2020, Eubanks was recognized by Ohio’s Community Mercy Hospice for his service during World War II. The team held a veteran recognition ceremony for him on Memorial Day that included his children, their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchild.

Eubanks is survived by his sons, Steve and David; daughters, Sandra Black and Cathy Ferguson; grandchildren Steve, Shane, Jenny, Kevin, Kendra, Chad, Autumn, Kristy and Ren; 25 great-grandchildren; and eight great-great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.

Eubanks’ funeral services will be held on Tuesday. The visitation will be at 11 a.m. and the service at noon. Burial will follow in the Myers cemetery with military honors.

Online condolences can be left at www.richardsraffanddunbar.com.

About the Author