Saluting Our Service Members: Military Spotlight

By The Major Brent Taylor Foundation

Tom Mendenhall

By The Mendenhall Family

Thomas (Tom) Mendenhall enlisted in the Air Force in January 1977. His first assignment was Basic Training at Lackland AFB, TX. Tom was born in Ogden and went to Bonneville High School. His dad introduced him to the trumpet early in life which took hold where he gained 1st chair in the State Honors Band during his high school years. This led to an out of state college music scholarship where he excelled and followed with his Air Force enlistment and was placed as an active-duty airman in the Robins AFB, 581st (AFRES) Band. Air Force bands are the hardest branch of government to get into.

Tom’s family members have a long history of serving in the military including his dad who served in WWII, his son who was a Marine, and five other family members.

This band performed music throughout the spectrum of military operations to foster the support of our citizens and to promote our national interest at home and abroad. Tom loved and excelled with the band, being a featured soloist in many events. One of his most memorable times with the band was in Panama, where they were detailed during the Carter Administration for the country’s signing ceremony, giving the canal authority to the Panamanian Government. Many other events took place in beautiful areas including the Caribbean Islands.

SrA. Tom Mendenhall of the AFRES band blows a mean trumpet and wears a big sombrero in preparation for National Hispanic Heritage Week.

Tom thought of what he truly wanted to accomplish in life during his enlistment. Besides giving Tom the love of music, his dad also gave him the love of the outdoors—specifically fishing. Tom left the military under honorable conditions as a sergeant when his enlistment ended, having been decorated three times. He was accepted at a college in Oregon and attained a bachelor’s degree in fisheries (with the help of the GI Bill), allowing him to continue his work for the federal government.

He has worked for NOAA, the Forest Service, and the BLM as a federal fish biologist at several stations, including many in the states of Oregon, California, Idaho, Alaska, Washington, and here in Utah before accepting his last assignment in Washington, D.C., where he was the Senior National Fish Program Manager providing leadership, budget, and projects to the program.

Tom has moved back home and is now settled with his wife in North Ogden. He had no idea just how far his military experience would take him. He owes a lot back to the Air Force for the discipline learned during his enlistment and is very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our country in both military and civilian opportunities.

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