February’s Military Hero

Navy Veteran Tom Vatter is your Military Hero for February 2022.

VICTORIA, Texas – Chief Petty Naval Officer Tom Vatter is your Military Hero for the month of February.

Tom joined the United States Navy in 1963, a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time that Tom says patriotism was high, so he wanted in on the action.

“Everyone at that time was pro-USA, pro-Military, pro-everything, we were one team, so I joined the Military,” says Vatter.

While stationed in Maryland Tom worked on 26 different types of aircraft, then he saw the P3 it was almost like love at first sight.

Tom Vatter up in the air. Tom would spend the majority of his Naval career on a Navy aircraft called the P3.

“I saw this great big great big airplane taxing by, and I said, ‘huh what the heck is that, and they said that’s a P3,” says Vatter.

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A maritime surveillance aircraft, seeing the P3 would be something that would change Tom’s time in the Navy forever.

“I said ‘Well that’s cool, does that land on a carrier?’ And they said no. ‘What do I have to do to be involved in that?’ and they said I’d have to become a naval aircrewman, and I did,” says Vatter.

Tom would go on to achieve the ranks of an Aviation Structural Mechanic Chief Petty Officer. He maintained the aircraft ejection seats so when you see those pilots shoot out of their plane with their parachutes deployed, possibly avoiding death in the sky, you can thank Tom for making sure those seats ejected properly.

It’s easy to associate the navy with ships and boats but once on the p3 Tom would then spend his entire naval career in the air, so and after doing the math, tom estimates that he got plenty of airtime.

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“I amassed over 17,500 flight hours in the Navy P3, actually 17,525, if you want to equate that to minutes, and days and hours it equates to 2 years being in the air non-stop,” says Vatter.

With that much airtime, Tom would see the world, many times over.

“That includes flying around the world. There’d be times we’d leave our home port in Maryland, we’d fly east and continue to fly east until we came back home again,” says Vatter.

When you fly around the world you sometimes end up seeing some pretty cool places.

Tom would fly around the world many times over.

“Oh the Azores, Easter Island, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, various counties, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, basically if there was a landing strip there we probably landed there one time or another,” says Vatter.

After seeing so much of the world tom has a good understanding of what it means to be thankful.

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Before Tom’s retirement, it’s tradition to be hosed down.

“I had a daughter that wanted Jordache Jeans, oh my God she gotta have the Jordache Jeans at that time, and I have just seen kids literally just fighting each other in the streets of Djibouti North Africa and explained to them, hey kids you gotta roof over your head you got food you got clothes, lighten up,” says Vatter.

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Tom and his wife Shirley are very active in the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4146, something Tom says keeps him active. If he’s not already out playing some golf or with their 2 dogs you might find Tom and Shirly with their many grandchildren.

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Tom’s dog, TeeJay.

“I met my wonderful wife Shirley and between Shirley and myself we’ve been blessed with five children, ten grandchildren, and at the last count, it was 29 great-grandchildren. You say ‘what?!’, yes they just keep popping out I don’t know where they keep coming from,” says Vatter.

Thank you Tom Vatter for your commitment to serving this county and thank you to all the Veterans watching at home for the sacrifices you make for our freedoms as Americans every day.

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