American Veteran 04

Thomas Gaines

October 17, 1945 ~ June 19, 2021 (age 75)

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A while called back, I was reading a copy of the Marine corps Gazette, and I saw an ad for a writing contest. lt was "The Robert E' Hogaboom Leadership Writing Contest". I thought I could answer the question, "What is A Leader?" Though I do not believe my composition qualifies for the contest because of the guidelines.

 I believe a great leader is an inspiration; someone who inspires his men and others. He leads by example. He has the ability to relate detailed stories of his experiences on the battlefield and at home. He is well versed n military affairs, the mechanisms of love and family, he has compassion for his fellow man, his men, but children and small animals, especially. He has the ability to relate stories of how he coped death on the battle front. He has the ability to lead troops, specifically 237 marines through battle, and bring them home with no casualties.  He bonds well with his men. He is modest and humble about accomplishments, yet he is not afraid to speak out in a cultured manner to his superiors and authority figures about atrocities and abuses which have occurred to him and his fellow men. He exhibits strength and ability to defend himself, his family and men from attack and fend off the enemy. He has physical strength and agility. He is in excellent physical condition. He has and excellent command of speech, a sharp mind, and superior memory and recall. He makes an effort to treat all people fairly. He withholds his judgement, acknowledging the wisdom of his superior officers.

He relegates the mechanisms of war to the battlefield and not beyond. He acknowledges his faults and does everything in his power to overcome them. He loves God, his country, his mother, and his family.

He engenders the trust of his subordinates, truly living the Biblical story of the Centurion who said that  his soldier would heal if the Savior merely said the word to the Centurion.

He is quiet and appropriate most times.  He controls his temper, rarely acting out consciously. He does abuse alcohol or other substances. He has and exercises excellent judgement, giving sure and organized directions most times. He earns the respect of his men, his family, and his superiors. He listens to wise counsel and accepts and acts on it as appropriate.  He uses his mind and experience, after being inculcating Marine protocol and careful in making and carrying out decisions. He is conservative in his social contacts, considering the security of the community and his family. He holds cleanliness as princible and habit. He corrects his family and his men gently and appropriately with concern, sensitivity, and consideration.

He is an expert in and has vast knowledge of his profession in addition to military strategy and tactics. He earns respect of his superior officers and his opinion is solicited by them in military affairs. He has  superior powers of observation and evaluation. He enthusiastically absorbs information on current events, politics, and world events and is able to formulate responsible opinions about these events, whether they be explicit or obscure, wetl accepted or ridiculed, but remains true to his beliefs and cogitations. He checks his ambition in lieu of the pursuit of excellence in his field and in military strategy and performance his on the battlefield. He is forgiving and understanding with his troops and obedient to his superior officers He has earned professional and military acknowledgements of his accomplishments. He is worthy of the respect of his peers, superior officers, family and friends. He is an exemplary example of a US Marine Corps Officer and earns his Honorable Discharge and distinctions, accepting them with discretion and modesty.

He has excellent taste. He rarely complains under the most severe of circumstances and is willing to live under Spartan conditions.  He is well versed in emergency and prevention procedures. He is well prepared.

I believe  I know such a man. His name is Captain Thomas Gaines. He serves out of Selfridge Airforce Base near Detroit, Michigan. A tumor arose in this man's brain, recently. He had two brain surgeries to correct the issue. The surgeries were successful. After the surgery, Captain Gaines returned Doctoral Level, Master's Level, Baccalaureate Level Mathematics which is his field and has been offered a full time position by a Major university.  They removed a portion of Captain Gaines brain to correct the tumor. 

 Captain Gaines at has the been returned to active duty and is now on standby status. He may be facing going to Ukraine at the battlefield. He has previously fought on the battlefront in lraq and Kuwait.

I am writing to you to ask you to let Captain Gaines retire. He is 59 years old. He has served in the military for over twenty years. He is a career military man. Please give him his Honorable Discharge. He has served faithfully. Most of his family are deceased. I am one of his new friends, Elizabeth Ann Grier.

I know that I each military person has their own story to tell and many of these are tragic stories, however, I feel that Captain Gaines is not medically secure to be sent overseas to go to the battlefield in active warfare.

Please consider  my request. I have confidence that your compassion for your troops will win out in this decision. Thank you so much for your time.

Yours Very Truly,

Elizabeth A. Grier, MA,, LPC, CPSS, CRMC, BCPC

That was written in 2014. Captain Gaines was not discharged after this letter was written but maybe seven years later?  Tom passed away yesterday. He had lung cancer which had metastasized to the bone. Later while riding in an ambulance to or from his radiation treatment, a car hit the ambulance he was riding in. He sustained injuries to the head. There was bleeding in his brain.

This was my long-term partner. We were together 24 1/2. We lived together for four 1/2 years. He was my perfect mate. He yelled at me occasionally because of my poor housekeeping but I deserved it. I didn't yell back. These were the only arguments we ever had. He enjoyed watching TV and taking care of  his van.  He enjoyed Motown oldie music.  As I mentioned he was a USMC Captain. He was retired from teaching higher mathematics at Wayne State University,  Wayne County Community College, and University of Phoenix.  He was well liked by students and respected by his peers and superiors. It was an honor to spend the years with him and be by his side.

A caring cremation was entrusted to Walter Scott Skupny Funeral Home, 28605 Gratiot, Roseville. Please share memories with the family at their "On-Line Tribute Wall" at

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