I'm writing about my client Tom Dreesen, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1960. From boot camp at Great Lakes to duty stations in Newport, Rhode Island, to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, where he was assigned to a squadron N.A.T.U. (Naval Air Torpedo Unit). and later assigned to USS Tarawa (CVS-40) and then to USS Essex (CVS-9).
After serving in the Navy he returned to his hometown of Harvey, Ill., where he joined the local Jaycee chapter and became very active in community affairs. As a Jaycee he wrote a drug education program for eighth-graders and was joined by a young black man named Tim Reid. The program was designed to get the children laughing and then plant the seeds of the ills of drug abuse.
One day an eighth-grade girl leaving the classroom said "You guys are funny. You ought to become a comedy team."
Taking her advice, in September 1969 they became America's first Black and White comedy team. History shows they were the last. The team split up after six years and Tom became a solo act. In the last 45 years he has made over 500 appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian including 61 appearances on the Tonight Show and over 50 appearances on David Letterman, and even hosted the show in David's absence. He has performed in all the main showrooms in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno and Atlantic City, performing with Sammy Davis Jr, Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, Mac Davis and for 14 years toured the nation as the opening act for Frank Sinatra.
Throughout his career he has always found time to entertain our troops all over the world as well as raising millions of dollars for worthy causes for our men and women in the military. Gary Sinise called on Tom to be the first Ambassador to the Gary Sinise Foundation, and he has assisted Gary in raising money to build over 80 "smart homes" for our disabled veterans.
He came from a very poor family, being one of eight children and at 10 began to help feed his siblings by shining shoes in taverns and later setting pins in bowling alleys and caddying at a local golf course. He dropped out of high school at 16 and on his 17th birthday joined the Navy.
While in the Navy through the GED program he received his high school diploma and then went to junior college.
Whenever he's interviewed he will often talk about his years in the Navy and how much it changed his life. He's an outstanding spokesperson and never fails to tell young people about how proud he was to serve his country and why they might consider it also.