I recently had the opportunity to talk with Coronado Cays resident, Retired Captain Thomas Campbell.
In October of 1975, just six months after the Vietnam war ended, Thomas Campbell joined the Navy. He had just earned his Master’s degree and was working odd jobs to keep him afloat. He soon joined “Officer Candidate School, or Officer Cadet School (OCS), which are institutions which train civilians and enlisted personnel in order for them to gain a commission as officers in the armed forces of a country.” (Wikipedia contributors.) Once Campbell completed this he was able to sign up with the Navy SEALS and gain a better understanding of Navy life.
Tom explained, “I retired as a Captain, after serving a little over 26 years in the Navy. I realized right away (on active duty), you do have to have a certain attitude and mindset, especially when working with others. Being in a leadership position you have to have an attitude that you will win and not quit and ultimately get the mission done.”
He comments, “I heard about the SEALS from my cousin, who was a helicopter pilot. He had met with many of them and liked what they represented. I thought this would be a good group of guys, I was young and had no responsibilities… Vietnam was not my motivation or any previous war, I just thought it would be a challenge.”
Tom adds, “I think for me, I realized the physical challenges would be psychological. You thought every day when you woke up, was this something I wanted to do? We (his SEAL Team) had to think about that. You had to have that individual desire to complete the basic and advanced training. Through the training, you were on the instructors’ time and you had to deal with that fact, that things are not on your terms but the instructors’. If you didn’t fit in that box, you didn’t cut it.”
Tom still has ties and close relationships with his peers, ”I still keep in touch with a lot of my peers. I was able to attend the 75th Anniversary of The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) (which is the precursor of today’s CIA), and I while I am not in as good shape as I used to be, I try and go to the shooting range. I will be turning 69 in the coming months, on my 70th I am planning a free-fall parachute jump.”
Tom likes to keep his mind active with extensive reading on topics concerning our country, politics and world news. He is also a dog lover; his pit bull Webster is his companion on long neighborhood walks or on trips to Café Madrid located in town.
Hopefully my interview with retired Captain Thomas Campbell gives you a better understanding of what it takes to be a member of an elite team. The Navy SEALs, and all branches of the military, are important assets to the Coronado community, where I am proud to see them respected and remembered for their selfless service to our country.