Amazing Senior: Tom Yarbrough

tom yarbrough

Tom Yarbrough is not exactly your typical 85-year-old retiree. Tom still enjoys riding his classic Ducati motorcycle, a sleek machine that comes all the way from Bologna, Italy. When asked if he was still an active rider, Tom seemed amused by the question and replied, “I’m still young enough to ride!”
Born 85 years ago in Gadsden Alabama, Tom attributes his continued youth, good health and ability to ride a motorcycle to a life time of hard work.  At a young age, Tom moved to Coral Gables, Florida where he went to school. He had his first job at age 13, a paper delivery route for the Miami Herald.  After school, he would help his uncle in a shoe store on Coral Gables’ famous Miracle Mile shopping strip.
At the age of 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy where he spent 25 years in America’s service. During that career, he saw a lot of the world, including spending 3 years in the Philippines and a tour of duty at the old Sanford Naval Air Station, in near by Sanford, Florida. During his Navy career, Tom had a unique experience at the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS), known as “China Lake”, located in the Mojave Desert.
America’s air forces, including the Navy’s aircraft carrier planes, were developing a bombing tactic called “toss bombing.” Also known by the official name of “Low Altitude Bombing System or LABS,” it was a method of bombing in which the attacking aircraft pulled upward when releasing its bomb load, giving the bomb a “toss” towards the intended target.
The Navy used the tactic in its A3 Skywarrior, the largest aircraft to ever fly from the deck of a carrier and an important part of America’s defense strategy for years. It’s a tricky maneuver, intended to give the aircraft time to escape damage from the blast created by its own bomb load. It was effective, but not something for the faint-of-heart. Tom was a member of one of the air crews that developed it.
After retiring from the Navy, Tom went back to school at Daytona Beach Community College, now known as Daytona State College.  He must have liked it, and the school must have liked him, because after graduation he stayed on as a full time employee until his second retirement. Employers know that military veterans like Tom are very likely to be loyal, dependable and talented workers. He had two satisfying careers, both jobs in which he served his country and fellow citizens.
Tom is living proof of the old saying that, “You are only as old as you think you are”!  He shows us that working hard, staying involved in the things that interest us and engaged with our friends and family keep you young. He also shows us that Florida is a wonderful place to retire, whether you are a veteran or not.
Forget the stereotypes of forgetful, grumpy old guys. Most Americans age 50 and up say they feel younger than their age and that probably means that they feel pretty good.  The next time you pass a yellow Ducati around Daytona or the Volusia area, wave!  It may just be Tom Yarbrough out for a ride on his 86th birthday. Keep going, Tom! salutes Tom for his “can do, still young” attitude. Tom Yarbrough should be an inspiration to us all, especially our seniors and their loved ones. He shows us that we can stay young by remaining involved in life and doing the things we love. That is what hopes to do for all seniors: help them keep that “can do, still young” outlook.
Last A3 Skywarrior (largest aircraft to ever fly from a carrier)
Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS)

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