DEARBORN – The Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council has named U.S. Army veteran Tom Wilson as Dearborn’s 2019 Veteran of the Year.
Wilson will be honored at the annual Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
Veterans of the year are nominated by their veteran peers, then selected by a committee of past recipients. The honoree is chosen based on how he serves the community, especially veterans, in Dearborn and beyond. Other traits considered are personal qualities of honor, leadership, compassion and commitment.
“For 40 years, Tom Wilson has been involved for the betterment of veterans, veteran service organizations he belongs to, and the city of Dearborn,” veteran colleague David Parker wrote in his nomination of Wilson. “Tom has spent literally countless hours on behalf of veterans and their causes.”
“I feel that Tom is a great asset to the city of Dearborn for the youth of the city,” American Legion Post 364 Commander John Bradford wrote. “Without his hard work and leadership, making sure he has good members sitting on his committee, we could not do the work we do.”
Wilson said he is humbled by the recognition from his peers.
“It’s quite an honor,” he said. “I never envisioned that I would one day be the recipient.”
Wilson was born in Central City, Pa., and hails from a long history of military service. His father and four of his uncles served in World War II in the U.S. Army, along with his mother’s brother as well, who served in the Navy. His grandfather, great-grandfather and their grandfathers also served in the country’s military.
Wilson enlisted in the Army in December 1970.
“I felt it was my duty to serve my country, so I joined,” he said.
Wilson completed his basic training in Fort Knox, Ky., then went through Advanced Individual Training at the Signal Corps School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he learned how to be a fixed station radio operator and repairman. His first active duty assignment was at Fort Huachuca in Arizona in strategic army communications.
In 1972, Wilson was selected for a Military Assistance Advisory Group assignment and sent to Brunssum, Holland, where he served on a U.S. Army base. He was assigned to Armed Forces Central NATO during the Cold War.
“They kept the peace in Europe during the tension of the Cold War,” Wilson said of NATO. “It was the balance where we had the NATO forces countering the Soviet Union forces during the Cold War.”
After leaving the army in 1974, he obtained a technical school education at RETS Electronics School using the G.I. Bill. Following his graduation in 1976, he began working for the Burroughs Corporation as an engineering technician. He eventually moved onto Graco Robotics—now ABB Robotics— as a product engineer, later moving onto his current career in supply chain management.
Married in 1978 to Judy, they have two daughters, Cassandra Murphy and Kimberly Dahn. They also have a granddaughter, Hailey, and a grandson, Wilson.
“Their continued support allowed me to spend the time with my ‘veteran family’ over the years,” he said.
Veterans Member Organizations
Wilson has dedicated 40 years of his life to veterans-based volunteer work. Although he lived in Romulus at the time, he began to look for an organization to join from a veteran’s standpoint, and ended up choosing the American Legion Post 364 in Dearborn.
“I saw that Dearborn had an American Legion, and that’s what I wanted to join,” he said. “I stopped there 40 years ago and I liked what I saw—the people, the atmosphere—so I decided to join and that started my journey to being involved with veterans.”
Here, Wilson says, is where he met many of the friends and veterans he interacts with regularly.
These organizations and his volunteer work have been particularly meaningful to Wilson, who says he has spent his entire veteran career in Dearborn.
“I found a home 40 years ago when I joined the American Legion,” Wilson said.
In addition, Wilson has been a member of American Veterans Post 4, an organization that advocates for veterans, since around 2004. He has previously served as senior vice commander and commander.
Wilson also served as commander for the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council in 2012 and among his responsibilities was oversight of Dearborn’s Memorial Day Parade, and the Veterans Day and Flag Day ceremonies.
While he was commander for the DAWVC, Wilson was instrumental in revitalizing the Walter Kielb Veterans Memorial. The memorial, originally located in Porath (Kielb) Park in Dearborn, had been vandalized and the plaque removed.
Wilson, along with Dearborn school board trustee Hussein Berry and DAWVC member John Ruselowski and others, had the memorial moved to Fordson High School. It was rededicated in May 2012 with a formal ceremony, and now continues to honor World War II casualty Kielb and also all who have served in the military after attending Fordson.
During his work with the American Legion, Wilson has made a number of meaningful accomplishments. Most notably, he took over the annual “Bobby V.” golf outing and expanded it to include additional youth programs, including Student Trooper training, Dearborn Youth Baseball, the Boy Scouts and more. Most recently, the golf outing has raised over $60,000 for Dearborn youth programs.
“We’re always looking for youth programs for the community in order to make it a better place,” Wilson said.