Today, I was reading the Hampton Roads obituaries as I always do while I wait for my 30 minutes to pass after I take my thyroid medicine. It is just a part of getting older. However, today I discovered that yet another of my shipmates had passed away.
Master Chief Tom Shupe passed away on Friday, February 15, 2013. Tom was an exceptional man. He served 31 years in the Navy. He was an Aviation Engine Mechanic, first in reciprocating engines and later in jet engines. He was severely injured when he was blown off the flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier resulting in a broken back! But, he continues to serve being returned to full duty after his recovery. That back trauma left Tom with a permanent stoop that only increased as he aged. Still, he never complained and continued to drive his convertible Mustang GT every time he got a chance.
Tom was a dedicated member of Grace Community Church in Virginia Beach where he worked untiringly to build the Church buildings and the Church body. I remember when we were planning to tear down an out building that was built without a foundation. Tom warned me to wear a mask because they had put Seven dust below the floor boards twenty-five years ago when he built that shed. He was always devoted to helping the body.
Tom was a devoted family man. He lived his wife deeply and often told the story of how they met. He was always there to help his family with guidance and love. Tom was a wonderful mixture of gruffness and gentleness and he always knew which trait was right for the moment.
I have reached that time in life where I attend many more funerals than weddings. Each time a friend passes ways, I realize that I have more friends in Heaven than here. I will miss Tom, but I will see him again soon!