BUEHRING, Kuwait – Three years ago, 1st. Lt. Tommy Gorman, assistant
fire support officer, 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st
Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, left leading a
classroom to fulfill a life of service that began at birth.
The San Diego native grew up in a household where selfless service
to the nation was viewed as an obligation to a greater cause. That
lineage began with his grandfather, who served in World War II, and
continued on to his father and uncles, who served during Operation
Desert Storm. Gorman's service manifested in high school, where he
tutored elementary school students as a volunteer with the San Diego
Urban League, a nonprofit organization.
His passion for
helping others led him to San Diego State University, where he
earned a degree in journalism and a minor in history. After working
for the Social Security Administration for 12 months, he said he
felt a hunger to truly make a difference and resigned.
accepted a teaching position in San Luis, Arizona, a small town near
the U.S.-Mexico border. Gorman said he was initially nervous with
the idea of teaching seventh-and eighth-graders whose second
language was English, but said he created fun and exciting ways to
teach the students grammar fundamentals to facilitate the learning
It was there he met his wife, Mary Coe, an art teacher whose
father retired from the Army, and they talked for hours about
growing up around the military. They both later took positions at
Academia Del Pueblo Elementary School in Phoenix.
was always very passionate and enthusiastic about teaching and
always made time for his students,” said Samantha Sepulveda, former
San Luis student and current Arizona State University student. “He
was not your typical teacher. His personality made a positive impact
the entire school year, and it was not the same when he left.”
Gorman said the most fulfilling thing about teaching was when he
saw an “aha moment” in a student's eyes, signaling he or she finally
understood what he was teaching.
“Tommy was very patient and
able to take students whose math, English and language arts ability
was far below average, and he was able to raise their scores to meet
and exceed the state standards,” Mary Gorman said.
Staff Sgt. Dean Owens, assistant squadron fire support NCO, left,
and 1st. Lt. Tommy Gorman, assistant squadron fires officer, right,
both with the 4th Sqdn, 4th Cav. Regt., perform final pre-combat
checks and pre-combat inspection on their High-Mobility Multipurpose
Wheeled Vehicle Aug. 28, 2014 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Courtesy
It was an interaction with a fellow teacher that sparked
Gorman's interest to serve in the military, he said. A
teacher who was also a Navy Reserve officer talked about a
life of service and how the military was looking for people
like Gorman for the officer corps.
“It was that
moment that I decided to explore the possibilities of
military service like the other men in my family,” Gorman
He walked away from a rewarding, two-and-a-half
year career as an educator, he said, and began a life in
uniform in March 2011.
Shortly after, he arrived to the
“Big Red One” to take on the challenge of leading Soldiers.
“Being an officer is similar to being a teacher in that
you have opportunity to impact the lives of Soldiers,”
Gorman said. “Some of the Soldiers are like my students in
that they enjoyed learning new things.”
he developed a good relationship built on trust and
communication with his noncommissioned officers and
Soldiers, which has given him invaluable insight into their
experiences. That has helped him plan relevant training
events, he said.
“The best thing about being an
officer is the opportunity to lead Soldiers in accomplishing
the mission,” Gorman said. “I'm a traditionalist in the
sense that I believe that it's a moral obligation for any
able-bodied person to render service to this nation at some
point in their lives.”
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bernhard Lashleyleidner
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