In November 1942 Thomas Oxendine became the first Native American to graduate from the US Naval Academy. After receiving flight training in Florida, he became an observation pilot on the USS Mobile during World War II. Oxendine received the Distinguished Flying Cross for rescuing a downed fellow pilot. After the war, Oxendine became a test pilot for the navy and later a combat flight instructor. He served in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and now lives in Arlington, Virginia.