Petty Officer Thomas (Tom) Goerler, US Navy
When Tom was in high school, the Army National Guard was offering full college tuition, so during his junior year, he signed up and even took in his first training between his junior and senior years. By the time he graduated, the offer for tuition was off the table, so Tom decided he’d stay the course and get an education serving his country.
He started as an infantryman before transitioning to the Navy, choosing the Navy for its advancements in electronics and technology.
One day on a Naval vessel Tom was headed down the ladder (stairs) and he caught his foot on the duffle bag he was carrying, causing him to fall two flights of stairs, landing on a hatch. It hurt a lot, but he thought he could walk it off. It was two days before Operation Desert Shield escalated to Desert Storm. When the pain would not subside. He decided to get checked out and found he had two broken vertebrae and herniated discs. Multiple surgeries later he had 9 spinal fusions and try as he might he could not return to active duty on a Naval vessel.
Medically discharged in 1991, his training served him well and he went on to have a successful career working for Flight Safety International as a simulator technician.
In 2017 he was carrying a motorcycle engine when he tripped, aggravating his past injuries as well as causing more damage needing another surgery and a fusion in his lower back.
Trying to rebuild his strength Tom finds comfort in the water, and he’s hoping scuba diving can be something he can enjoy with his family for years to come.