My story begins in the farmland of western Minnesota, in and around the town of Morris. My parents were born, raised, and married there. In 1972, they left Morris to begin my dad’s service in the United States Navy at Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Florida.
As my parents moved around the world to serve in the Navy they started their family, and eventually made their home back in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. They provided a wonderful childhood for my brothers, sister, and me -- an upbringing full of faith, hard work, service, and love. My memories are full of trips to my grandparents’ farm, visits to the family cabin, and plenty of basketball, baseball, and football with my Eden Prairie friends. My love of country and appreciation for our way of life, which was planted by my family, took hold of me as I grew up in Minnesota.
Tom was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and raised in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He graduated from Eden Prairie High School then attended the University of Notre Dame, participating in the Navy ROTC program. He graduated from Notre Dame with honors in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and was commissioned in the Navy in 2001.
I was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, at Navy Nuclear Power Training Command on 9/11. I heard one small plane had hit the World Trade Center. As the son of a pilot, I immediately headed to the cafeteria to see a television. Moments later, I watched in stunned silence as the second plane hit. We instantly became a nation at war and I became a son worried about where my dad was flying that day. By the grace of God, my dad had been scheduled to fly out of Atlanta the morning of September 11, 2001, and his flight was cancelled. The tragedy of 9/11 solidified my commitment and motivation to serve and defend our nation.
During my Naval career, I was stationed on four submarines and one aircraft carrier. I served in 13 different duty stations, visited over 35 countries, and conducted numerous missions vital to America’s national security. Whether it was driving a submarine around the South China Sea, deploying to Japan as part of Operation TOMODACHI following the Great Japanese Earthquake, or conducting operations onboard the USS EISENHOWER in the North Arabian Sea, I cherished the opportunity to wear our country’s uniform for the last 20 years and am proud of my service. America needs leaders who have served.
Driving submarines around the world’s ocean and operating nuclear power plants hundreds of feet below the surface develops a unique type of tested leader. By handling crises in this inherently dangerous environment, I learned how to be a leader who truly understands time-critical decision making, robust self and team analyses, and the true value of experience. Every sailor on a United States Submarine, from Captain to Seaman, is a vital member of the team who has a responsibility for the safety and success of the entire crew. America needs leaders who have led.
Between my tours onboard submarines, I was fortunate to complete assignments as a Flag Aide to the Commander of the Pacific Fleet; a Legislative Defense Fellow on Capitol Hill; and a Military Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. These experiences allowed me to work first hand in developing complex strategies, addressing resourcing constraints, and improving public policies. America needs leaders who have experience.
Tom completed Nuclear Power Training and Basic Submarine Officer Course prior to reporting to the USS CHICAGO (SSN 721) based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He subsequently completed tours onboard the USS CHARLOTTE (SSN 766) and USS COLUMBIA (SSN 771) as the Navigator and Operations Officer, and a tour as Executive Officer on the USS MICHIGAN (SSGN 727). Tom completed five submarine deployments throughout the INDO-PACIFIC Region conducting numerous missions vital to national security.
Between submarine assignments, Tom held many high level positions: developing and implementing national security policy as a Legislative Defense Fellow for Congressman Rob Wittman (Virginia’s 1st District); serving as the Flag Aide to ADM Patrick Walsh, Commander US Pacific Fleet (CPF); serving as strategic communicator for the Director, Undersea Warfare Division (OPNAV N97); and serving as the Military Assistant for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense & Global Security. Additional tours contributing to his unique skill sets include volunteering for a Global War on Terrorism Individual Augmentation assignment to US European Command; deploying to Operation TOMODACHI following the Great Japanese Earthquake as the Aide to the Joint Task Force Commander; and being selected as the only American student in his year group to attend, and successfully complete, the UK Royal Navy Submarine Command Course “Perisher.”
Following his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, Tom volunteered to go back to sea as the Carrier Strike Group 10 Submarine Operations and Training Officer, completing a record breaking 206-day continuous deployment onboard the USS EISENHOWER to the Middle East.
Tom decided to retire from the United States Navy with over 20 years of service after being twice denied requests to return to the submarine community for his Commanding Officer tour. His love of family and home brought him back to Minnesota, and his love of country and desire to continue to serve led him to run to Represent Minnesotans of the 3rd District.
Tom holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Master of Engineering Management degree from Old Dominion University, and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Eisenhower School at National Defense University. His personal awards include three Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy Commendation Medals, one Joint Service Achievement Medal, and three Navy Achievement Medals.
Tom and his wife, Cynthia, have two children, Clare and Thomas. They live in Plymouth, Minnesota.
The next step in my American dream was to take command of a fast attack submarine. However, in the Summer of 2017, just before I was to begin my commanding officer training, I received a curveball: a diagnosis of Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Relying on my faith, family, friends, and outstanding medical care at Walter Reed, I coped with and grew to understand my diagnosis and the disease. During this time, I kept my military career charging forward, volunteering for a deployment to the Middle East onboard the aircraft carrier, USS EISENHOWER, and completing a tour as a Military Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During these tours, I submitted two requests to be granted a medical waiver to return to service onboard a submarine – they were both denied. My dreams of commanding a submarine were over, but I knew I had more to give to this great nation. America needs leaders who have persevered.
As I looked forward to what was next for my family and me, I reflected on my past - visiting the farm in Morris, a Friday night playing football for Eden Prairie, a trip to the Minnesota State Fair, my first watch as Officer of the Deck on the USS CHICAGO, standing in the DMZ between North and South Korea, my wedding day, the birth of my children - these experiences strengthened my appreciation for our cherished American way of life. I realized my time in the Navy may be ending, but my desire to continue to serve something greater than myself was stronger than ever. Our American experiment is a shining light, but it did not come about, survive, or flourish without hard work, great sacrifice, and principled leaders. Our American Dream is worth fighting for.
That is why I would like to represent my fellow Minnesotans in Congress to fight for the America we love and to ensure that each and every child has the opportunity to live his or her American dream. America needs leaders who appreciate and love our country. My home, my American dream is in Minnesota. I’m here to serve you and keep the American Dream alive.