Tom's military leadership experience combined powerfully with his unique business vision immediately upon leaving active duty in the US Marine Corps in 2008.
In a very short time and beginning in his early 30's, he built a family of Texas energy companies, including industry leaders such as Victory Biodiesel (biodiesel fuel, diesel fuel, and renewable credits), Victory Blue (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), VICNRG (petroleum industry and alternative fuels), and Victory Transload (bulk transfer via railcars/trucks).
In the active duty Marine Corps, Tom served as an officer and F/A-18 Hornet pilot, flying 11-hour combat missions over Afghanistan in 2002 less than a year after completing training in the Hornet. Upon returning from Kuwait, Tom deployed with his squadron to Iwakuni, Japan.
Recognizing Tom's performance in challenging operational environments, his squadron sent him to the famous Naval Fighter Weapons School ("Top Gun") in 2003.
His last unit was Marine Air Group 41 in Fort Worth, Texas, where he continued to fly F/A-18s and recently retired in 2015. He has over 1200 hours in the F/A-18, along with time in the T-45 trainer jet, T-34C turboprop, our T-6/SNJ, Citabria, and Cessnas.
Chris brings broad aviation and business experience to T-6 Victory. Since leaving the active duty military in 2003, he has worked as a corporate operations analyst, aviation industry consultant, small business owner, and military reservist.
On active duty, he also served as a Marine Corps officer and F/A-18 pilot, deploying overseas twice aboard an aircraft carrier while serving in Operations, Training, and Maintenance roles. Continuing as a pilot in the Marine Reserves, he deployed to the UK, Hawaii, Japan, and Korea. He is a graduate of the Marine Division Tactics Course, and is rated as a USMC Air Combat Tactics Instructor, F/A-18 Instructor Pilot, F/A-18 post-maintenance check pilot, and strike mission commander. He has FAA Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor ratings, and in addition to 2800 hours in F/A-18s, he has flown the T-6/SNJ, jet trainers (T-45 and L-39C), T-34C turboprop, single/multi-engine piston aircraft, single-engine seaplanes, light taildraggers, and sailplanes.
The T-6 Victory Team
Co-founders Tom Paquin and Chris Koelzer are driven to help people create greater value through greater leadership, by teaching principles that have propelled each of them to success in both military and civilian life.
T-6 Victory's red-nosed aircraft is actually a Navy/USMC version, an SNJ-4. It was built in either Dallas, Texas, or Inglewood, California, and accepted by the Navy in Pensacola, Florida, in April of 1943. Unfortunately, we do not have wartime records of each flight, or each student pilot and instructor that flew it. But please think of the Americans who sat in her cockpits during that time...probably thousands of young men, many just teenagers...and wonder what happened to them. Their airplane still flies today as a memorial to their service and sacrifices, and a testimonial to American engineering and craftsmanship!
Our airplane remained in Navy service at various training bases along the Gulf Coast until 1956, when it was sold to Ace Smelting, Inc.--a company which purchased numerous warplanes for their scrap metal value. Thankfully, some of these aircraft were sold to the civilian market, including SNJ-4 serial number 88-13164 in March 1957. The new owner registered it with the US Government as N7070C, and it has been flying faithfully in civilian hands ever since--for owners in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin...and now back to Texas! Civilian maintenance records exist back to 1957.
About the Aircraft—