Tommy Birdsong was a young golf pro in Jacksonville, Florida. He was one of the first men drafted in the National Guard in 1940. After training in Texas, he was sent to San Francisco and from there to the Philippines. Just days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and their invasion of the Philippines, Birdsong and his artillery unit were assigned to Corregidor. With the fall surrender of Corregidor on April 9, 1942, Birdsong became one of the thousands of Americans who became prisoners of the Empire of Japan. He survived (1) The Bataan Death March, (2) imprisonment at Cabanatawon POW Camp, (3) shipment to Japan, (4) work as a prisoner slave laborer in a mine a few miles outside of Nagasaki, (5) the atomic bomb, and (6) a broken neck courtesy of a guard who clubbed him with a rifle butt.
After the war and rehabilitation, Tommy returned to Georgia. His privation and beatings during the war ended any dreams of playing competitive golf. Without complaint, he set about earning a living and raising a family.
Tommy Birdsong moved to Dublin, Georgia in the 1960s as the golf pro at the Dublin Country Club. In 1964, the golf course was redesigned by Tommy Birdsong and Howard Cordell Sr.
Tommy also designed Fernandina Beach Golf Club, located just north of Jacksonville, Florida with 10 miles of the Florida, Georgia border.
Tommy Birdsong was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for Valor. His life was well lived.