Philip Lyman Brewster was born in Neodesha, KS, on 22 Dec
1929, the son of Arthur and Nellie (Groves) Brewster. A graduate of the New
Mexico Military Institute, he attended the Colorado School of Mines prior to
West Point. His military background stood him in good stead for his cadet years — especially Plebe year. His leadership qualities were apparent
from the beginning.
They not only helped him personally but helped guide his
roommates as well. Phil was the acting Plebe First Captain during Plebe
Christmas, a “Star Man” his entire cadet career, and at or near the top of his
class in military merit. Phil was a disciplined leader with a mature personality
who also possessed an exceptional sense of humor. He also was a good listener.
His leadership responsibilities may have saved his life during
Yearling year. Phil had some special tasks at the beginning of
Yearling Christmas that caused him to miss the charter flight
arranged for west coast cadets that year. He was still grousing about the missed
charter when he returned in January and found that the military charter had gone
down in Arizona, killing all aboard.
Phil met the love of his life and wife-to-be, Evelyn Abraham in
the fall of 1953. They were introduced by Dee Esposito, Sam
Greer’s One and Only and Eve’s classmate. Eve was outgoing and
fun; she loved fashions and did some modeling. The couples double dated many
times. Love blossomed, and Phil
and Eve were married on 9 June, the day after graduation, at the
Cadet Chapel. His brother, Dan Buchly, was best man; company mate and roommate
George Kronsbein and company mates Al Momberger, John Hudachek and Jack
Wisniewski were ushers.
Upon graduation, Phil was commissioned as a second lieutenant in
the U.S. Air Force, did his primary flight training at Marana Air Force Base
(AFB) near Tucson AZ, and advanced training at Luke AFB. One company mate
remembers when a group of students on a solo training flight decided to have an
unauthorized contest to see who could put his plane in a spin and
make the most turns before initiating recovery procedures (or augering in). Phil
won, and all escaped serious disciplinary action for this violation of rules,
regulations and good sense.
Following pilot training, he was first assigned duty in an F-84
squadron at Turner AFB, Albany, GA, where, son Scott was born. Eventually, son
Scott also became an Air Force pilot, flying F-15s and F-5s and is a pilot
(captain) for Southwest Airlines. After F-100 training, Phil was assigned to
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, where he served as an instructor and completed the
tour as chief of standardization and evaluation. Daughter Jody was born on
Okinawa in 1960. She also married into the Air Force: pilot Don Ross [now LTC
(Ret.), also with Southwest Airlines], and they have two children.
Phil then was selected to attend the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, where he earned a master of science degree in aeronautics and
astronautics. He then joined the initial cadre for the F-4 at MacDill AFB and
was subsequently assigned to the staff at Tactical Air Command, Langley AFB, VA, in the
acquisition program for the F-111 aircraft.
As a distinguished graduate from the Air Command and Staff
College, he served his first combat tour in Viet Nam in the F-4 in 1968. His
next tour was with Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon, as part of the newly
formed Operational Test and Evaluation Division. During this tour, he also attended the
Harvard Graduate School of Business and then the Senior Seminar on Foreign
Policy, U.S. Foreign Service Institute (War College equivalent). He then volunteered for a second tour
in Viet Nam, this time as Chief, Air Force Division, Defense Attaché Office. He personally helped direct the evacuation of
U.S. and Vietnamese personnel from Tan Son Nhut during those difficult last days
in Viet Nam.
After departing on the last helicopter out of Viet Nam in 1975,
he became director of operations for the Joint Air Force-Navy AIMVAL-ACEVA, followed by duty as chief of staff, U.S. Air Force
Tactical Fighter Weapons Center. He retired at Nellis AFB in 1980 as a colonel,
having served his nation for 26 years. During his career, Phil was awarded two
Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Legions of Merit, and many other decorations, including ten
He then joined Holmes and Narver Corp. and subsequently Raytheon
Services of Nevada, where he served as a senior director, Logistics Planning
Group, providing services to the Nevada Test Site, still serving his country.
Phil suffered a bout with throat cancer in the early eighties but continued to
until 1994. Thanks to modern science and some great fortune, Phil
had 15 more years to see his daughter mature and marry and to enjoy time with
his grandchildren. He and Evelyn also did a lot of traveling, taking two or
three vacations per year, thanks to the perks offered by Southwest. They also
did a lot of boating on Lake Mead. They continued to enjoy life!!
Phil retired again in May 1994, having served another 14 years,
and died in November 1994. His ashes were scattered over Nevada Test Site from
an F-15 going Mach 1.4, piloted by his son-in-law, LTC (Ret.) Don Ross. COL
Brewster was survived by his wife Evelyn—who died on 5 Sep 1997—son Scott, daughter Jody,
brothers Dan and Lee, and grandchildren Christopher, Alan, Michael, Sydney and
Throughout his career and his life, Phil Brewster symbolized what
a West Point graduate is expected to be as a leader, advisor, protector and
contributor to the betterment of society and the nation. He lived our motto of
Duty, Honor, Country, and we can sincerely direct him to “Be thou at Peace” as a
brave warrior and loyal friend. We are all honored by his life.
—Family and company mates