One of our good friends and Amazing Seniors passed away last month, so we want to bring you his story today, which you have heard about from when we have featured him.
He was an inspiration to all and lived a fun and exciting life up until the very last day.
He was not the typical retiree you would think of that lives in Florida. He would ride his Ducati motorcycle and stay active every day.
Tom attributed his continued youth and good health 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 aircrews 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 was living proof of the old saying that “You are only as old as you think you are”! He showed us that working hard, staying involved in the things that interest us, and engaged with our friends and family keep us young. He also showed us that Florida is a wonderful place to retire, whether you are a veteran or not.
We will miss you very much Tom.