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Veteran Profiles

Specialist 4th Class Thomas Eugene Joy

Thomas Eugene Joy was born Dec. 5, 1948 to Austin L and Catherine E. (Walter) Joy. He was the youngest of his five sisters and two brothers, all who attended St. Euphemia's elementary school and graduated from St. Joseph's High School.

Tomís favorite sport was baseball and he loved playing the game. He also played basketball in high school, and enjoyed fishing and hunting. Ask him about chicken hunting! Tom still hunts and fishes with the friends he went to school with like Terry Myers, Mike Orndorff, John Sherwin and Eddie Pryor.

Like many other Emmitsburgians, Tom worked at Mount St. Mary's College washing pots and pans while attending high school. One year while still in high school, Tom, Terry, Mike, Eddie and a few other friends went to seminary classes in Trenton, NJ to see what it would be like to become a priest. Their priesthood ambitions were cut short when they met some girls at a party. They all decided to forget the priesthood. Tom also enjoyed doing donuts in a Volkswagen at the old carnival grounds and hitting phone poles, but his faulty explanations could never fool his dad.

Tom joined the U.S. Army in June of 1967 just as the Vietnam War was heating up. Tom and his friend Eddie Pryor left at the same time for basic training at Fort Bragg. From there Tom and Eddie went to Fort Ord for military police training and then to Fort Benning for jump school and paratrooper training. He made five jumps while there.

After completion of his stateside training, Tom began his tour in Vietnam. While "In Country" Tom served as a military policeman helping guard prisoners of war. In a war without traditional front lines, Tom was always in harmís way.

"If you heard the bang and then a whoosh whoosh whoosh sound, it meant outgoing mortar," Tom said. "But if all you heard was a whoosh whoosh whoosh, you learned quickly you had better find cover in a bunker fast before the bang because the mortar was incoming."

Tomís initial assignment was to guard a facility where visiting dignitaries slept. When mortars were incoming, Tom woke up the dignitaries and got them into a bunker so they would be out of harmís way. Sure enough, on his first nightís watch, mortars started to hit all around. Tom headed to the dignitary "hooch," and upon discovering no one was there, he hurried out to find a bunker for himself. It was pitch black outside so Tom had no idea what type of bunker he was in. He felt around and to his horror discovered hand grenades, shells and munitions all around him. He had jumped into an ammo bunker! The very last place anyone would want to be in a mortar attack. Needless to say, he lost no time in finding another bunker!

Tom fondly recalls a time he got into hot water. "I didn't shave and that was allowed. My CO told me I was a MP and he wanted him to shave every day and to report to him after duty. When I did, the CO told me to get a shovel and dig a 6x6x6 hole. I no sooner finished the hole when the CO came to inspect it and said, ĎNice job. Now fill it back in.í You can be sure I shaved every day after that!"

Tom was honorably discharged from the army in 1970. Upon returning home he started dating his wife Ruth. While on a date, Tom stopped in front of Charlie and Pete Angels Sweet Shop in Thurmont and asked Ruth to hold her hand out. She did.

Ruth thought Tom was going to give her a ring, but instead he handcuffed her to the steering wheel while he went inside and ate a sandwich. It was supposed to be a joke but Ruth didn't see it that way. Ruth thought the handcuffs were toys and tried pulling out of them. The handcuffs were actually Tomís MP cuffs, so the harder she pulled, the tighter they got. By the time Tom came out of the Sweet Shop Ruth was in a lot of pain from the cuffs. Needless to say, it was an interesting drive home!

Despite the tricks Tom pulled on Ruth, the two still married. When they first got married, Tom and Ruth lived above Greens Bakery on West Main St. by the dough boy. A few years later they moved to Emmit Gardens where they still reside today. Tom retired in 1997 and is enjoying every minute of his retirement. They have two beautiful daughters, Lisa and Tina.

Tom spends time volunteering at St. Catharineís and at the Martinsburg WV Veterans Administration. He is a life member of VFW and the AM VETS and Post Commander of The Thurmont Am Vets Post 7. He also belongs to Post 121 The American Legion Emmitsburg. I hope you have as much joy reading this as I had writing about Tom. I wish Tom and the entire Joy family and all readers of the Emmitsburg News-Journal a Joyous New Year.