Rev. Thomas Bristow enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1946 at age 17. He received his Basic Training at Shepherd Air Base in Texas. After Basic Training, he was transferred to Chunte Field Air Base in Snoppville, Illinois where he completed training in Aircraft Sheet Metal and as a Fuel Cell Specialist.
After graduation, he was sent to Lockbourne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio and was assigned to the 477th Anti-Aircraft which was later divided into three fighter groups. Bristow was then assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron, serving under the legendary Col. Benjamin O. Davis. He was later made Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the entire Sheet Metal Shop. Bristow was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1949 prior to being discharged.
In October 1950, Bristow was called back to active duty. He was stationed in New York and then transferred to Camp Stommon in Oakland, California to await orders for Korea. Because he had less than six months to serve, he was shipped back to Mitchell Field Air Base, where he was honorably discharged in 1951.
Bristow was appointed deacon in 1961 and was called to the ministry in 1962. He attended Northern Baptist School of Religion in Newark, New Jersey. He retired as a pastor in 1994.