Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Army Spc. Troy O. Tom

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Troy O. Tom, 21, of Shiprock, N.M.

Spc. Tom was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Aug. 18, 2009 in Arghandab, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. Also killed was Pfc. Jonathan C. Yanney.

Beclabito soldier killed in Afghanistan— By Alysa Landry — The Daily Times

BECLABITO — Flags across the state and Navajo Nation are flying at half-staff to honor 21-year-old Army Spc. Troy Orion Tom, of Beclabito, who died Monday in Afghanistan.

Friends of Tom, a 2006 Aztec High School graduate, remember him as an honest man with a great sense of humor and undying patriotism.

"Students really thought highly of him," Aztec Superintendent Linda Paul said. "He had a great sense of humor, a great smile and he was trusted by his friends. He was a very intelligent guy, and he had passion."

Tom is the son of David and Carolyn Tom, of Beclabito. David Tom serves as a delegate to the Navajo Tribal Council.

"Right now he's just our hero," David Tom told The Associated Press on Friday. "His family is all proud of him that he was out there, serving his country."

David and Carolyn Tom flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for a ceremony Thursday when the Army moved the body of their son back to the United States. Tom was killed by an improvised explosive device when his unit was setting up camp in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.

"I'm proud of him every day he was there and every day still," said Tom's brother, Seve Tom. "He was a good guy, a good leader. We miss him, but he knew what he was doing and he wanted to do it. He always wanted to serve his country."

Seve Tom called his brother his best friend. Tom is survived by two brothers, Seve, 24, and Leon Harvey, 13; and a sister, Carrizoe Tom, 19.

"He was strong and he was always laughing," Seve Tom said of his brother. "He cared about everybody and was willing to help anybody out. He had a big smile on his face every time we saw him."
Carrizoe Tom said she will miss her brother's smile, laughter and sense of humor.

"He was a good person. I really miss him and love him," she said. "I wish I could have said good-bye to him, but I know he's in a better place, and he's probably just smiling and laughing."

Tom is the ninth soldier from the Navajo Nation to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2004, a spokesman for Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. said.

"It was with great sadness that I heard of the loss of one of our brave Navajo soldiers," Shirley said in a prepared statement. "On behalf of the Navajo Nation, I offer our deepest condolences to the family of the late Army Specialist Troy Tom. We offer our sympathies and prayers to his entire family. We pray they find the strength to carry through this difficult time, knowing that their son's contribution to his country is deeply appreciated and will be remembered."

Tom attended Beclabito Day School and T'iis Nazbas Community School in Teec Nos Pos, Ariz., before moving into the Aztec Dormitory to attend high school.

Tom was a member of the National Honor Society in high school, and he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, Paul said. College scholarships poured in, but Tom wanted to be a soldier.

During his senior year, Tom often repeated a favorite quote from Daniel Webster: "I was born an American; I will live an American," said Paul, who distinctly remembers a conversation she had with Tom near the end of his high school career.

"I have lunch with the kids," she said. "I ask them about their goals. He was so memorable because he was so clear. He wanted to go to the Army. He was going to go into the Army. He wanted to be a soldier."

Tom, who also enjoyed fishing and skateboarding, reported for basic training just months after graduating.

His father said he joined the military to challenge himself physically and mentally. He was based in Fort Lewis, Wash.

"We're grateful for Troy's service to our country and we are keeping him and his family in our thoughts and prayers," Paul said.

Funeral services are set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Farmington Civic Center.

Army Spc. Troy O. Tom was killed in action on 8/18/09.

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