I’d like to adjourn tonight in memory of Calvin Edward Thomas, a former Green Beret and Vietnam War Veteran who passed away on December 18th at the age of 69 following a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Calvin was born in 1948 in Miami, Florida, but grew up in Southern California and attended high school in Santa Barbara County. At just 17 years of age, he left school during his senior year in order to follow in his father’s footsteps as a paratrooper in the United States Army.
He left home a few days after Christmas in 1965 for training at Fort Bragg, where he realized he wanted to become a Green Beret and fight in Vietnam. Less than two years after entering Basic Training, Calvin arrived in South Vietnam, where he was assigned to an elite unit responsible for training villagers to defeat guerilla forces.
In 1968, Calvin and several other Green Berets were overrun in a local village but were able to escape into the jungle. Unfortunately, he suffered from a high fever shortly after and returned home with an Honorable Discharge just before Christmas.
Upon returning home, he earned an Associate of Arts degree from Allan Hancock College and transferred to Sonoma State University before returning home once more and opening a cabinet shop with his father in the family garage.
It was during this time that he began experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s, which was later confirmed as a result of his history of fevers in combat. Despite being diagnosed at 24 years old, Calvin continued his education and earned a degree in history with a minor in philosophy.
Family was extremely important to Calvin and still is for the Thomas family. Other than the years when he was in Vietnam, Calvin spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and he and his brother George had the strongest of bonds.
We are all saddened by the loss of Calvin Thomas and our thoughts are with George and the entire Thomas family during this time.