These stories are mostly email messages Tom wrote and saved on his computer. A few weeks after Tom passed away, I found these and am posting them in his memory. I have removed the recipient's names.
Mar 19, 2014, 11:50 PM
When Frank and I lived in northern Virginia, on Christmas Day, we would invite two straight woman to join us for lunch.
They were friends, but neither gay.
Bev, who I sold my Honda Accord to when we moved to Colorado, at a loss of $6,000 (intentionally) had a significant other (male) who died in front of us at a campground a few years earlier from a heart attack. Bev's auto mechanic came to me during the selling of the Honda and whispered in my ear, she is "stealing" this car from you. I looked him in the eye, and said, "yes, I know, I want her to."
And Laurie, is a deaf painter who painted our house outside twice. She has been deaf since age 6, when her parents took her to Switzerland, where she contracted spinal meningitis... which caused her deafness.
One Christmas Day, after lunch, we sat Laurie (deaf) on the floor, and braced her back with many pillows to make her comfortable.
Then we laid about four speakers on her legs (two on each side), and turned on a "Closed Captioned" Lion King DVD from Disney. We turned up the volume, so she could feel it. She had not seen the Lion King before and wanted to see it, and she could read the words, and feel the vibrations in her legs as the mood of the DVD changed. She was amazed and said she did not know that there was a sound stereo effect. For the first time in her life, she could feel sound and its nuances. And she loved it.
That was a fun Christmas Day for all of us.
April 15, 2014, 1:43 PM
I remember my first week at SAIC in September 1984. SAIC was then an employee owned company and when I left it had 44,500 employees. I (on my third day working for SAIC) went into a briefing in which a subcontractor of SAIC was making a status report for us. Another man in my division was berating the speaker on every single point. It was terrible behavior on SAIC's part. Thankfully the meeting ended shortly. About an hour later the SAIC employee doing the berating asked me to drive over to the subcontractors offices, about five miles away, to pick up a report. I did.
I went into the subcontractors office and found Charlie, the briefer earlier in the afternoon.
I gently closed Charlie's door and said I need to speak with you in private. Then I said sarcastically, I have a lot of experience as a defense contractor. I now have been one for three days... three days. But let me tell you something from deep down in my soul. What we experienced earlier today when you briefed us was one man being rude and arrogant. What you briefed was not that bad and you did not deserve the beating. I make you a solemn promise, I will do everything I can do to correct that SAIC employee and treat you with the respect you deserve.
Fast forward two months, and the bad SAIC employee quits. So I offer Charlie a job with SAIC. Charlie is hired by me at SAIC. Two months later we hire Charlie's wife, Vickie, who is even smarter than Charlie. Maybe 9 years later Charlie had to leave SAIC and I am the one who fired him. Not my doing but my bosses order. Fast forward another five years and I offer Charlie a new job in SAIC... as my new boss. He accepts, but corporate SAIC HR Bernie Thule, head of HR for the entire company, calls me, and says, Tom, we cannot hire Charlie. In fact you are the person who fired him. I said yes I did. Then Bernie says you know that Charlie has changed in the past few years and is better now???? I said, Bernie, Charlie has NOT changed. Bernie asked then why do you want him back? I said I fired Charlie under orders and the boss who told me to fire him has retired. Charlie is the perfect match of who we need. So SAIC hires Charlie again. And Charlie is my new boss.
Charlie and I remained friends from day 3 in SAIC until I left 24 ½ years later. His wife, Vickie was never fired and continues working for SAIC at Ft Detrick, in Maryland.
Strange how life directs one.
May 5, 2014, 8:52 PM
Short Tom Story
My boss was ready to deliver his final report to the government. He called me in to scan his report. I had fifteen minutes to review it, which on the surface was stupid .. but he did want a new pair of eyes on the document.
I skimmed the study's purpose, quickly ran through the analysis, and then read the study's conclusion in ten minutes.
I looked my boss in the eye, and said your conclusion is outright stupid. Do not give this report to the government. You are asking them to pay $ 12.35 to correct this problem. Hell, I will pay that amount for them. And we will look like heroes.
My boss was defensive. He said, "Tom, it is not $ 12.35, it is twelve million and three hundred fifty thousand dollars." Undaunted, I again looked him in the eye and said, "You did not print the M = millions in your conclusion."
He delayed his report for a day until he could correct the missing "M".
October 8, 2014 10:46 PM
We have moved east and are presently at Holloman Air Force Base, next to Alamogordo, NM. The Trinity site is about less than twenty miles from my RV, and I wish I could visit where the first atomic weapon was detonated, but they open the site for one day a year and that date is in the month of April.
I wish the National Park Service would take it over and have six people run it, charging $20 a person to enter. They would make a lot of money.
I know this will sound strange, but I have always wanted to visit there. My goal would be simply to see it, then bow my head in prayer, hoping what they did in 1945 will be a benefit to mankind, and not its destruction. I still do not know the answer to that question. Certainly I would know the answer, which I would not like, if ISIS had nuclear weapons.
ISIS is stronger today because they have US Army weapons which they took from the Iraqi Army which the US gave the Iraqis.
What a complex world we live in.
I am on this Air Force Base, under total security, with a camp site of water, electric (50 amp), sewer, internet, and cable TV. The cost is $20 a night, which is dirt cheap. On the civilian economy this would cost me between $45 to $55 per night. And no security guard around.
Tomorrow we will visit White Sands National Memorial, and Alamogordo. I had a friend who was a Major General who commanded White Sands Missile Range when the Shuttle landed here because they could not land in California or Florida. Yep this place is sand, flat as a board, and has a runway. My friend Major General Alan Nord has since passed. A brilliant man, a West Point Graduate and a Rhoades Scholar. Once while working in the Army at Falls Church, VA, I called his office in the Pentagon and ask for an interview. He and I had worked together on a previous study. I went for the interview, and told him his Chemical Officer position was opening in one month, and I wanted to come to the Pentagon and work for him. He looked me in the eye, and said, "Tom, you are hired." And so I was... for three years.
Working at the Pentagon is strange, but I loved it. It is illegal to have alcohol in the Pentagon, but President Reagan threw a California wine reception there after he inducted some Medal of Honors Awardees. If the President can do it, so could I, so from that moment until I left the Pentagon, I kept a gallon of red and white wine under my desk and a popcorn popper. Every Friday after 4:30 PM I would serve wine and popcorn. I even had my own Lt General come visit weekly for the event. My office then was very close to where the plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11. There but for the Grace of God go I...
We have two more weeks to this RV trip, then home to winterize the RV and stock up for the winter. My bones tell me we are in for a dozzie of a winter, but we shall see.
I hope this email finds you all well and safe.
Thanks for reading my ramblings.
Part 2, October 9, 2014, 7:23 PM
Last night I mentioned my friend, Major General Alan Nord, commander of White Sands Missile Range and a General in the Pentagon.
I met Col Alan Nord when we both worked on an Army study in Alexandria, VA. Our task was to break a major Army command into two pieces, an R&D piece, and an Engineering/Production piece.
As the study progressed, one could see how others were solving this issues and producing a recommendation. I read Col Alan Nord's approach and instinctively knew he was wrong.
I called him and asked for a 20 minute meeting when he had time. Guess what, he had time now!!!
So I went to see him. A cordial man.
I, a Major two ranks below his rank of Colonel, explained to him the following:
Alas, he did not take offense or yell at me. When the final report was published, I read his areas of the study. And he did indeed listen to me, and changed his recommendation.
So before I asked Major General Alan Nord for a job in the Pentagon, he already knew who Tom was. We were friends.
I wish he were alive today. A gentle, kind, extremely intelligent man.
December 1, 2014, 10:21 PM Basically a repeat of an earlier story from April 15, above, but written slightly different.
My first week at SAIC was basically getting to know the company, our current contracts and to know how I could help. And they had to know who Tom was.
On my third day at SAIC I was asked to attend a briefing from one of Bill Hannon's subcontractors. The subcontractor was a small company called something like McLean Research.
The briefing took place at SAIC, about ten people were in the room, and the McLean Research briefer was Charlie Dye.
A man in my division listened to Charlie, and berated him on every comment Charlie made. It was terribly insulting for Charlie, and fortunately the briefing closed down in 30 minutes.
Charlie went back to his office in McLean.
Later that afternoon, the man, who I thought was rude, came to me, and asked me to go visit Charlie's office in McLean and retrieve a document we had lent him. I said, "Sure, I can do that."
So I drove to Charlie's office in McLean. Went in and found Charlie at his desk. I closed Charlie's door, so we could speak in private.
Charlie did not move, as he thought I had come over to attack him, as our rude man at SAIC did.
I said, and I will remember these words correctly for the rest of my life, "Charlie, I am a member of Bill Hannon's Division of SAIC, and I have a lot of defense contractor experience. Trust me. I have three full days of experience as a defense contractor. But that is all the experience I need to talk with you. Your briefing today was not that far off target. The rude treatment one member of my division gave you was inexcusable. From this day forward I will defend you inside of SAIC. I will protect you."
Those few sentences to Charlie bonded Charlie and me for 24 years. Two months later the rude man quit SAIC and we hired Charlie in his place. We also hired Charlie's wife two months later and both still work at SAIC. Once I had to fire him because I was told to. And once later I hired him as my own Boss, if you can believe that.
So life does provide interesting times.
Sorry if I have babbled too long tonight.
December 2, 2014, 9:12 PM
At an age of 16, I invited a girl neighbor to a hay ride with about 30 other kids.
Half way through the hayride, she and I were sitting on the side of the hay wagon being pulled by either a tractor or a horse, I do not remember which.
Our legs were hanging over the side of the trailer. To this day I do not know why (but my God does know why) I said to my date, "I feel uncomfortable with us being on the side of the trailer. I want us to move further into the center of the trailer." She followed my lead.
In 30 seconds a car side-swipped the trailer, and our feet were numb for 30 minutes... cause the bottoms of our feet were still at the side of the trailer.
Had we not moved, we both would have lost our legs for life. I would have been a cripple for life, and never have the chance to do what I have achieved in life... growing up dirt poor.
Every day, I am thankful for that warning. It was a 30 second warning, and I heard it LOUD AND CLEAR... and there have been several other warnings in my life. None of my own making.
And I am truly thankful, from where these warnings come from.