Tom Reach

Cullum No. 24015-1962 | January 9, 1965 | Died in Vietnam

Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

Tommy Reach was many things to many people: husband, son, father, brother, friend, leader, soldier, scholar, but Duty and Honor always come first. His death, while under enemy attack in My Yen, Vietnam, must not be in vain. This young man’s sacrifice should inspire all who come after to put forth a maximum effort toward the preservation of freedom and personal liberty. Surely, the world will be a better place for Tommy’s young son to live in because his father, and others like him, have made the supreme sacrifice while in the service of their country.

Tommy was born on 20 March 1940 in the Ware County Hospital in Waycross, Georgia. His early years were active and at times hectic, but Tom had the knack of making the best of trying situations and often managed to add humor to them. A broken arm, suffered at the age of four, left him with a “trick elbow” that was always handy to surprise, amuse, and sometimes, startle, his friends.

Grammar school in Waycross was just a “breeze” for Tommy, allowing him all the time he needed to work at his then current life’s ambition—to become a cowboy! Roy Rogers was his hero.

Tommy moved with the family to Decatur, Georgia, in 1952 and entered the local high school two years later. School work came as easy to him there as it had in grade school, and he devoted much of his time to the “Junior Achievement” program. Tommy had a natural talent for the modern business methods taught in the program, and it came as no surprise when his projects were highly successful. He graduated near the top of his class in 1958 and entered West Point that same year, having won a competitive appointment made available by Senator Richard Russell.

Plebe year is always the hardest, but, as usual, the resourceful Tommy actually seemed to enjoy the challenges. Periodic visits from his oldest brother, who lived nearby, helped to overcome the homesickness at first, and, in practically no time, young Cadet Reach was acclimated to his new environment. By 1960, when he might have gone home during his summer vacation, he chose instead to go to Europe with some of his friends.

The 1962 Howitzer says of Tom Reach: “When he wasn’t ‘dragging,’ playing tennis, or reorganizing the CCA, he was busy making friends. ‘Hivey,’ athletic, and active, Tom was always a big asset to his Class.” He was a cadet lieutenant in his first class year, and his extracurricular activities during his cadet days included membership in the: French Club, Debate Council and Forum, Handball Club, Ski Club, Parachute Club, and Skin Diving Club. He also played squash and was on the Pointer staff all four years.

During his last year at West Point, the light of love entered Tom’s life, and he and Rory (Rosemary) made plans to be married after graduation. Their plans materialized in the summer of 1962 when the two were married in the Yonkers Methodist Church, Yonkers, New York. The trip to Tom’s first duty station at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was their honeymoon.

In July 1963, while they were stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the happy couple was blessed with a blond, blue eyed son, William Thomas Reach Jr.

When Tommy Reach uttered his final words in that lonely bunker in My Yen early in the morning of 9 January 1965, he knew that although he had lived a short life, he had lived a full one. He had enjoyed the blessings of a loving wife, a fine young son, devoted parents, and a life without compromise or shame.

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