Tommy Gentile was born August 7, 1937 in San Francisco, CA.  His parents, Lawrence E. and Mildred were a navy family who soon found that their son got seasick just watching a bar of Ivory soap in his bath water.  After bouncing around West Coast ports for several years, the family settled in Fresno, California while dad was out to sea.  Tommy also had three siblings.  A sister, Gayle and two brothers, Stanley and Timothy.


Tommy enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1955, shortly before his graduation. Upon graduation from Washington Union High School, he reported to MCRD for basic training, then was assigned to 29 Palms for advanced training.  In August 1956, the Marine Corps released 600 men from the 29 Palms base as excess, with Tommy being one of them.


Less than forty-eight hours after his release, Tommy enlisted in the Air Force. During his tour of duty, he was stationed in 9 countries for the Strategic Air and Tactical Commands. Those stations included Korea, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Italy, Greece, and Germany. Upon receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science in 1962, Tommy was released from the Air Force to pursue his Masters Degree.  He graduated with an International Studies Degree in 1964, in Heidleburg, Germany.


Tommy met his future wife, Carolyn in September of 1962, and they were married shortly thereafter in Coalinga, California on December 22, 1962.  Tommy and Carolyn have three children, David, Robert and Michael, and three grandchildren, Audrey, Karris and Devon.


In November 1962, Tommy was recalled to service and ordered to report to Fort Ord, California. This time he was in the U.S. Army.  Entering service on November 4, 1962, which began the final stint of his military career. Tommy has attended thirty-four various military schools across the nation during his career, including the Sergeants Major Academy. Tommy received the Meritorious Service Medal for his part as an advisor for the U.S. Army Helicopter Repair Department in Fresno.  He was also instrumental in developing an air defense program utilizing shared integrated systems.  Tommy’s medal decorations include the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, Defense Service, Air Force Good Conduct, Presidential Unit Citation, Army Outstanding Unit, Air Force Outstanding Unit, Army Commendation Ribbon, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Service w/device, Vietnam Campaign w/5-Stars, Army Overseas, and Air Force Overseas ribbons.  He served a total of 42 years in the military and retired with the rank of Sergeant Major in May 1996.


Since his military retirement, Tommy has worked as a retail clerk at Orchard Hardware, as an electronic quality inspector for Graybar Corporation and as a logistics and security manager for the U.S. Commerce Department.  Tommy works tirelessly within the veteran’s family support system, ensuring they and their families receive what is due and available to them.  He has taken it upon himself to provide military honors for many of our deceased veterans.  Tommy has been the “Voice of the Parade” for the Fresno Veterans Day Parade the past three years and continues to be instrumental in the success of the parade.  Since early 2003, Tommy has been on the staff of the Legion of Valor Museum, and continues to serve as an educational coordinator, working with all levels of education.  Of all of Tommy’s endeavors, he considers his role of grandfather, as his most rewarding accomplishment.