by CDR John Kuehn, USN (Ret.)
Tom was my friend. I suspect there is a large group of people who can say that. That is because Tom was kind, generous, and a source of encouragement to just about everyone he met. He was also a quiet, but committed, Christian.
Tom and I first met in July of 1997 as a room of eleven SAMS students met each other prior to our year together as Seminar Two. Almost immediately I realized that here was a guy who listened and empathized.
That was Tom’s greatest gift. He knew how to actively listen. He would then offer encouragement and, often, words of wisdom — never condemnation or abuse.
Tom lived his faith. Tom reminds me of a description that one evangelist attributed to the biblical King David. Tom was a “tender warrior.” Throughout the years, through good times and stressful times, Tom maintained what we characterize–and prize–in the U.S. Navy as “an even keel.” He was an especially humble and modest person. His focus was always the welfare of others.
Colonel Tom Felts died in the service of his country in Iraq on November 14, 2006, due to an improvised explosive device. Tom had chosen to interrupt a comfortable life as a fellow in an academic environment assisting his alma mater–the School of Advanced Military Studies–to go to Iraq and assist in the training effort of the Iraqi military.
To the very end Tom lived a sacrificial life. Some may have cause to question the value of his making the ultimate sacrifice, but Tom would never have done so. He died in the same way that he lived–in service to others and in emulation of his Savior. He will be missed. I can only imagine that he was met at Glory’s door with, “Well done good and faithful servant.”