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Veterans Day: Tom Tish's lifelong service in the Army

November 4, 2020

On Wednesday, November 11, the United States will paused to remember and say “Thank You” to all military veterans, both living and dead, for their service in all branches of the armed forces. Originally called Armistice Day, this day commemorated the end of World War I in 1918 which was officially designated as occurring on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”  After WWII and the Korean War, Congress amended the declaration, changing the word “armistice” to “veterans” to honor veterans of all wars. The day is marked in many communities by parades, special church services, and lowering of the flag to half-mast. 

It has been the custom of St. Francis Manor & Seeland Park to hold a reception in the social center in honor of our veterans. I was asked to speak at the event this year but unfortunately, the restrictions imposed by Coronavirus will not allow us to have the Veterans Remembrance Program so I was asked to share a short article about my military service. 

I was born in Osceola, Iowa and I spent the years of my youth in Searsboro. I grew up in the Army. My path to a military career started soon after graduation from William Penn College in 1966. Our involvement in Vietnam was at its peak with many being drafted. Anticipating that I would be “selected to serve,” I volunteered for the Army and was sworn in during July of that year. In September, I entered Basic Training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and then went to Ft. McClellan, Alabama for Infantry training.  I completed that in December, earning the military occupation speciality (MOS) of Infantryman, 11B. I had previously applied for Officer Candidate School and was accepted to begin in January 1967, receiving my commission of Second Lieutenant in July. My first assignment was at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, where Karen and I were married on September 30 of that year. Little did we know then that our family’s lives would be wrapped around the United States Army for the next 48 years!

During my career, we were stationed at many locations within the continental United States, Vietnam, Alaska, and Germany. I have fond memories from all locations (well, some more than others) and counted them all as learning experiences.  I consider myself most fortunate to have worked with many outstanding people: Enlisted, Non-Commissioned, and Commissioned Officers. There are lessons to be learned from everyone you meet.  Right after my commissioning, I received one-line advice from a highly-respected Air Force Chief Master Sergeant: “Listen to your NCOs.”  This was the best advice I ever received! 

After retirement from active duty in 1989, I spent another 25 years as a defence contractor working with the Army’s Battle Command Training Program. We travelled the world providing automated tactical and logistical training to Corps and Division commanders, their staffs, and subordinate commands. This experience allowed me to interact with military from all branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine), both active and reserve components, ranging from three-star general to private whose military experiences ranged from WWII to today’s conflicts worldwide. I firmly believe our military forces are the finest, best equipped, best trained, and highly motivated of any in the world. 

I also want to include a special recognition to the spouses and families of our military. They are an integral part of any service member’s career. They provide the support base that keeps us going. 

To the men and women who have served, THANK YOU!  To those still serving, THANK YOU! To spouses and family supporting our military, THANK YOU!    

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