U.P. VETERAN OF THE YEAR COMMITTEE
IRONWOOD VETERAN NAMED 2016 U.P. VETERAN OF THE YEAR
Thomas J. DeCarlo has been named the 2016 U.P. Veteran of the Year. American Legion Post 27, Bessemer, nominated him to receive this award.
The selection committee consists of past U.P. commanders from various organizations throughout the U.P.
A World War II veteran, Tom served in the U.S. Navy with the 3rd Fleet Pacific—TS—5P. Military decorations include the WWII Victory Medal, American Pacific Area Ribbon and the Asiatic Pacific Ribbon-1Star.
Tom holds life memberships in The American Legion (Post 27), VFW Post 3673 (Bessemer), and the DAV. He is also a member of the Military Order of the Cooties #1035, Hurley, Wis., the Sons of the American Legion, Squadron 27, Bessemer, and Voiture of the 40&8, Dickenson County.
Thomas J. DeCarlo is a veteran’s veteran, a community-minded citizen and a family man. Besides the military organizations listed above, Tom is active in the Lady of Peace Catholic Church and belongs to the Knights of Columbus #397, Ironwood. He is a member of the Ironwood Kiwanis, and belongs to the Gogebic County Hospices organization. Tom is a flag carrier for Marty’s Goldenaires Drum and Bugle Corps wherever they travel. Based in Bessemer, Tom personally raised over $40,000 to bring the Goldenaires to the national American Legion convention in Nashville, Tenn., where Michigan’s own Tom Cadmus was installed as its national commander.
Over many years, Tom DeCarlo served in almost every capacity in all his veteran organizations. Tom has participated with Chambers of Commerce as Color Guard Chairman in 4th of July parades in Hurley, Ramsey, Marenesco and Wakefield. He has been Color Guard Officer of the Day for Memorial Day ceremonies for 66 years. In addition, Tom has been honor guard for 66 years presenting the American flag to the veteran’s next to kin at over 5,000 funerals. He organized a “Ships Reunion” four times; the first time after 42 years. He served 3 years on The American Legion’s Child and Welfare Committee, followed by 25 years of service on the American Legion’s Contest and Supervisory Committee; 7 years as chairman. Tom has been a delegate for the American Legion to 6 State Conventions and 4 National Conventions, and has attended 40 State Conventions and 15 National Conventions. He was a delegate to 2 DAV conventions and in 1999 was named the Upper Peninsula American Legion “Veteran of the Year.”
In addition to all of his accomplishments, Tom DeCarlo is a “polar plunger” every spring in Sunday Lake, raising monies for the area Hospice Association. He was unable to do the plunge this spring due to a broken leg; at 90 years of age, he was excused, but participated anyway. Tom did the “Blessing of the Fleet” when he was Grand Knight for the the Knights of Columbus in 1986. At the request of the captain’s wife and sister, Tom chaired the firing squad and Taps for a burial performed at sea at Saxon Harbor, Wis., and received an “Honorary Flatlander” plaque at the 2010 American Legion Convention.
An avid wine-maker, Tom, in keeping true to his Italian heritage, never attended a function where the honored guest didn’t receive a jug of his home-made “Dago Red”, a stick of his homemade Italian sausage and a loaf of Italian bread from the local bakery.
Tom is married to his wife Marilyn for 30 years. His first wife, Louise, passed away after 36 years of marriage. He has three boys, Thomas A., and twin boys, Jerry (deceased) and Jack. In addition to his 3 children, Tom is blessed with 6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
Tom J. DeCarlo will be honored as “U.P. Veteran of the Year” on Veterans day at the U.P. State Fair in Escanaba. The ceremony will take place on August 18, 2016 at approximately 11:15 A.M. in front of the Grandstand building. Governor Snyder, State Senator Tom Casperson and Representative Ed McBroom among others are expected to be present to honor Tom.
Bill Hafeman, Chairman, U.P. Veteran of the Year Committee