Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Tommy joined the Navy out of High School in 1953 and was on active military duty for 20 years.
He retired as Chief Photography Mate having served at a variety of stations and ships all over the globe. He received numerous commendations including:
Armed forces meritorious unit commendation, good conduce award (fifth) Navy achievement Metal, Aircrewman Breast Insignia, Navy Unit Commendation,
Vietnam service medal (Bronze Star), Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Award (2nd), Expeditionary Medal.