Recipient of Veteran Service Award Dedicates Efforts to Fellow Veterans’ Well-being

By Mike Bollinger

Tom Britt has called Johnston County home since 2008, dedicating the past 15 years to serving his fellow veterans in various capacities. In recognition of his unwavering commitment, Britt has been honored with the prestigious Johnston Now Veteran Service Award.

For Britt, being a veteran is a lifelong commitment. He firmly believes that if he has the capacity to assist his fellow veterans, he will continue to do so, motivated by the memory of friends he lost during his service. Britt served in the U.S. Army from May 27, 1966, until May 26, 1969, achieving the rank of Specialist 4 before receiving an honorable discharge.

During the first year and a half of his service, Britt was stationed at a somewhat secretive base nestled amidst the cornfields of Northfield, Minnesota. Despite its supposed secrecy, the presence of the base was well-known. There, Britt worked as a computer operator on the Nike Hercules System, a surface-to-air missile system designed for medium to high-altitude air defense. However, as technology evolved, the Nike Hercules system became obsolete, leading to the closure of the base.

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With the closure came orders for Britt to relocate to Bamberg, Germany, where he served with a howitzer unit. His role was crucial, serving as the driver for the battery commander. Possessing top-secret clearance, Britt was chosen for this role due to the commander’s need for a trusted individual to safeguard the code book. He ensured the commander’s jeep was always ready for action and accompanied him whenever necessary.

For Tom Britt, the most significant outcome of his military career was not the accomplishments achieved during his service but rather meeting his wife, Eleanor. Their chance encounter occurred while crossing a bridge in Northfield, leading to a lasting marriage of 55 years. Eleanor accompanied Tom to Germany during his deployment and remains his staunchest supporter.

After retiring, the Britts settled in Johnston County. It wasn’t long before Tom’s dedication to serving veterans began to shine. His journey into veteran service began when he attended a church program in Four Oaks, and Gertrude Beaver, the American Legion Auxiliary president, called upon veterans to stand. Tom stood up, and Gertrude approached him after the program, leading to his membership in the American Legion.

Tom has held the position of president at the Four Oaks American Legion Post 346 for six terms and currently serves as its finance officer for a second term. He played a pivotal role in leading the post’s Memorial Day program and oversees its financial operations. In addition to his legion duties, Tom is a member of the American Legion Riders based in Dunn, a group that provides motorcycle escorts for the remains of service members.

With a passion for motorcycles that spans over six decades, Tom’s love for two-wheelers began at a young age when he purchased a baby Harley with his babysitting earnings at the age of 14.

Eleanor is actively involved in the American Legion Auxiliary, and Tom lends his support to their bargain house. This initiative involves collecting donations, selling the items, and using the proceeds to assist veterans in various ways.

Tom also dedicates his time as a volunteer with the State Employees Credit Union Hospice House, working on a program specifically for veterans entering hospice care. Veterans receive special recognition, including a certificate, a U.S. flag, and a flag from their branch of service. The ceremony includes the singing of “America the Beautiful” and a heartfelt prayer, primarily aimed at comforting their families.

Tom recently completed training to volunteer at UNC Health Johnston in Smithfield, where he visits veterans when they are hospitalized, extending his support beyond his local community.

In addition to his military service and volunteerism, Tom Britt has earned the title of “General of Four Oaks,” bestowed upon him by then-Mayor Linwood Parker during a town council meeting in acknowledgment of his outstanding work with veterans.

Tom’s love for his small town is evident, and his unwavering dedication to his fellow veterans is a testament to his deep respect and admiration for those who have served. As he succinctly puts it, “I love my fellow veterans – period.”

Randy CappsPublisherJohnston Now magazine

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