About Me

Born and raised in the Ocala/Silver Springs, FL, area, I spent my childhood learning how to become who I am today. With lots of trials and errors, I am no different than the rest of you out there. It seems that what doesn’t kill us really does make us stronger. What doesn’t drive us crazy makes us saner. I was lucky enough to make it through my teens and into my twenties. That’s were I found myself, contemplating my future in the middle of a Rainbow Gathering, playing my Haitian drum, with more than 40 other “brothers and sisters” in a circle around a warm fire in the middle of nowhere.

I decided that I wanted to help save the world and others that needed it. I wanted to clean up oil spills, rescue marine life, and rescue the unlucky captains and their crews that found themselves in the worst of conditions; when their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, where in danger. Not all were saved though, many were lost. Dramatic? Yeah, sometimes … but that’s the job of Coast Guard search and rescue.

So that’s where I ended up, in the Coast Guard at a small boat search and rescue station at the mouth of the Cape Fear River on Oak Island, North Carolina. Frying Pan Shoals; the graveyard of the Atlantic. Sound scary? Well, sometimes it was. Boats usually don’t sink in calm weather. Sometimes, depending on if I trusted the coxswain onboard or not, it was the best thrill ride in the world. God has a way of creating what’s around us, and it’s not always calm and easy. I learned a real respect for that part of His world. It can be so beautiful, but it can also swallow you up at any moment.

I was there for 3 or 4 years, polishing brass in the middle of a marsh, getting bit by no-seeums (flying teeth), enforcing the law and rescuing swamped vessels. I put in my time, and I waited for my slot for the Public Affairs/Photojournalist Course at the Defense Information School to arrive. When it did, I was off to Indianapolis. I spent 10 weeks in the intensive public affairs/photojournalist course where I learned my next trade.

After class was done, I was assigned to the United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs Office in Portsmouth, VA. While at the command, I had many different jobs that I’ll add later. The biggest job we had as Public Affairs Specialists was making heroes out of … well … heroes. Their mottos: “Semper Paratus, Always Ready,” “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back …” and finally, “Elvis, if you are out there, we will find you.” Although a lot of people were rescued, a lot of them were not.

I worked the TWA Flight 800 crash, worked with National Geographic Explorer Journal’s Storm Warriors show, as well as many other reality shows and news agencies across America and various other countries.

One of our best stories, when I first got to the Atlantic Area office, was about two rescue swimmers from Air Station Elizabeth City, NC. Here’s a link to a story reprinted about Mike Odom, a rescue swimmer who was left behind, and his friend Mario Vittone, another rescue swimmer who helped rescue him. (Mario Vittone’s Article)

I decided to get out of the Coast Guard, since home was calling my name. I missed my family and didn’t want to waste another minute away from them. It was a hard decision, since I felt like I was failing by leaving a great job. My father wanted me to stay in, and I did, until he passed away. Then my next fear came: I was always away from home, if I failed at anything, no one would see or find out unless I told them. Now I was thinking about moving home, where, if I did fail, it would be in front of my family and everyone that knows me. It was definitely a weird mindset I found myself in. I came home anyway, that’s where I wanted to be, no matter what happened. I ended up failing at a few things anyway, but sometimes God has a way of taking our weaknesses and turning them into our greatest strengths. I soon realized that getting out was the best decision I ever made.

I’ll never forget driving across the Georgia/Florida state line on I-95. Ozzy’s “Mama, I’m coming home” was playing on the radio and I could see thunder storms off in the distance and actually hear the thunder! Ahh … thunder; the heart beat of the classic Florida storm! Finally, I was home. You see, I took thunder and lightning for granted before I left Florida to go into the Coast Guard. Other states have it, but sometimes you can go for months, through many storms, and never hear thunder or even see a bolt of lightning lighting up the sky. It’s weird but it is definitely something I missed while being away.

I came home and got my current job with the City of Ocala. During this time, I was able to enjoy my mother’s last two years of her life. Cancer took both of my parents as it takes many. I couldn’t have made a better choice coming home. If I had chosen my career, I would have regretted it. Now, I get to hang out again with my sisters, brother, nieces and nephews as well as friends. Not a bad life or place to be. My mom used to say,

“Remember, Tommy, it’s not how you spend your money, it’s how you spend your time.”

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”

“Why is now the best time to express love? Because you don’t know how long you will have the opportunity. Circumstances change. People die. Children grow up. You have no guarantee of tomorrow. If you want to express love, you had better do it now. The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.” – Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

– Mark 11:25

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:13

So learn to spend your time wisely. Learn to love and forgive … yourself, your family, your friends, your enemies; everyone. This is where true life begins.

Anyway, thank-you for taking the time to visit, and I hope you enjoy my photos! Keep checking back, there will be more.


Blair “Tommy” Thomas
MCP, Network , Security , C|EH, MCSA, MCSE
Network Systems Administrator -::- Webmaster


4 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Good story and words of encouragement. I have two daughters, Tommy. One is 27 and the other is 25. One was read to since she was in the womb and every night thereafter until she was around 7 years old. The older daughter was not…I was gone too much in the Navy and the wife did not take the time nor did she care. As you know, she later left and have not talked to the girls in more than five years. The only reason she even talked to them after our divorce in 1997 was because they asked me to find her in 2004 to see if she was still alive. Anyway, back to my point…read to your daughter every night even though you think she cannot understand yet…read anything you want to read, not baby books. Believe it or not, her brain is listening and it will make her smarter as she gets older. I learned way too late that this should be done to all children…give the gift of knowledge to your daughters starting now, you will be rewarded later. But most of all, love her with all your heart and being…always be proud of her accomplishments and tell her you are and always be the shoulder to her when needed…I’ve done that for my daughters and it has made us closer as they got older.

  2. Ooops…meant “daughter” not “daughters”…hey, maybe the slip is an omen! LOL

  3. HI Tommy, finally getting a chance to look at your fine photography. Ray has been out here and said Hola 🙂 Kenny in Daytona

  4. I loved reading what you wrote. I live by those thoughts. I plan on giving you, all of you lots of my time when I get up there in November. Thanksgiving, here we come!!! Looking forward the campfires, drums, good eats … all of it. One of us will be there in spirit, but I know he will be there with us all! and loving it. Tina

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