Canandaigua VA Medical Center
Home Sweet Home at the Canandaigua VA
A Purple Heart Recipient and a Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Thomas Morgan is a four year resident at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center and has an incredible lifetime of stories. As Tom shared his story he described a quiet and humble man; a man that always wanted the best in life and worked hard to make it happen.
Growing up Tom lived on his own since he was 12 years old. His rebellious spirit and can do attitude drove him to blaze a trail of independence. He washed dishes and eventually worked on a shrimping boat until he was 19 years old.
At 19 and still a young man, Tom was greeted one day as he sat on a park bench by a United States Marine Corps recruiter. The recruiter asked him if he wanted to join the Corps. With no family and roots to hold him down it took little time to convince Tom to join the Marine Corps family. The recruiter walked him through all of the paperwork and sent Tom to begin his journey at boot camp. While there were many trials Tom faced during those first months he emerged alongside his comrades and Marine with pride and esprit de corps. He shortly thereafter began his career in the jungles of Vietnam as a squad leader.
Tom has a photograph of his platoon proudly hung on a wall in his room along with family photos of his wife, daughters and many granddaughters and grandsons. The United States Marine Corps was where Thomas felt he belonged and was his first true family experience. Many of the members of that boot camp platoon did not survive the events that occurred in the jungles near Camp Carroll, only a few miles away from Dang Ha, but Tom remembers them. As a squad leader, Tom spent two years as a scout traveling from village to village through the jungle. He felt bad for what the war did to the country of the Vietnamese people and he remembers his fellow Marines.
During his eight years in Vietnam Tom received two Purple Heart awards. He described an American helicopter crew that rescued his squad from torture they endured. The VA embraces all Veterans, including Tom, for their sacrifices. VA is proud to, “fulfill the promise of a grateful nation….to care for him who shall have borne the battle…”
Tom is happy that he can surround himself with his family photos, his hat collection, ribbons, medals and United States Marine Corps emblems. Tom provided his photos and his personal items to Joe Patience, a furniture laborer and fellow Marine, to decorate his room. Tom enjoys sitting in his room surrounded by his family photos, his Marine Corps comrades, emblems and memories.
Tom shared, “It is peaceful and relaxing sitting in my recliner chair in my home at VA.”