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Goshen Township man saw military action in Navy, Army

EDITOR’S NOTE: To suggest a veteran for this series, which runs through Veterans Day, email metro editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com.

GOSHEN — Thomas E. Boreman Sr. was 19 and had just graduated from high school in 1963 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1963.

He traveled around the world for four years on the USS Leary, a 390-foot destroyer that held 367 crew members.

Boreman, 78, grew up in McMechen, W.Va., near Wheeling, where he was his high school’s quarterback. He learned hard work at an early age, making hay on the farm.

In fact, one of the more harrowing experiences of his life was when he was leading two horses down a road at age 8 and a milk truck came past him. The driver honked his horn, spooking the horses, causing them to bolt with Boreman holding the reins of both horses and being carried in the air down the road.

He survived with just some bruises.

He took basic training in 1963, then went to radio electronics school at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Maryland and was assigned to the USS Leary.

One of the more interesting features of the ship was it had a landing pad for drones, which were operated by Naval personnel. Boreman provided a photo of one of the drones, which looked somewhat like the ones used today.

When drones first came out, they were used strictly for military purposes, according to the website Percepto.

Boreman’s job on the ship was to work with the engineers, who are responsible for planning, maintaining and operating the Navy’s machines, ships and facilities. He spent three years and two months at sea during his four years in the Navy, but a 1965 incident in the Dominican Republic near Cuba stands out.

Six Navy SEALs were deployed on a mission to determine whether there were missiles in Cuba. The SEALs were deployed on a rubber raft. Before they were supposed to return to the ship, officials learned there was an SOS from the SEALs. They had commandeered a patrol boat and three of the six escaped. The three others were killed.

Boreman was at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba at the time, and he was part of a team that went to look for the missing SEALs.

“We finally found them the next day. They were sending out an SOS. They were using Russian equipment on the boat they took,” Boreman said.

American sailors took the Russian equipment off of the boat and blew up the boat.

Another time while on land in the Dominican Republic, he was “pinned down” in an area where there was razor wire in place, but insurgents climbed over the wires, and Boreman fired his weapon at them, he said.

His unit was about out of ammunition, so Boreman got into a Jeep to get more. He passed through three secured American checkpoints to get to the ammunition and brought it back to the Americans he was serving with, he said.

According to History.com, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent 22,000 American troops to the Dominican Republic in April 1965 in an effort to “forestall” what Johnson believed would become a communist dictatorship. It began as a civil war that many suspected Cuban leader Fidel Castro was behind.

The civil war began in 1961 following the assassination of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

During Boreman’s other years in the Navy, the USS Leary sailed in the Mediterranean Sea, near Vietnam and in the North Sea, Boreman said One time, the ship was in the midst of a pod of whales in the North Atlantic, and the ship hit one of the whales, Boreman said.

“It just raised the whole back of the ship up,” Boreman said. “There was blood in the water in the back. The whales followed us. They pushed that dead whale all the way back to where we were crossing back to Norfolk, (Va), where we were out of. The whale was on the shore where they pushed it,” Boreman said of the other whales.

“I don’t know why they did it. It’s crazy, isn’t it?” he said.

Boreman also enlisted in the Army during the 1980s after a friend told him he should return to the military and earn a retirement. Boreman stayed in the Army three years.

He came to the Youngstown area in 2005 to work at the Chaparral Family Campground near Salem and worked there 17 years.

Thomas E. Boreman Sr.

AGE: 78

RESIDENCE: Goshen

SERVICE BRANCH: U.S. Navy, U.S. Army

MILITARY HONORS: Various medals, including Armed Forces Expedition Medal, Army Medal and target medal

OCCUPATION: Retired ironworker, welder and boilermaker, working about 20 years for Weirton Steel in Weirton, W.Va.

FAMILY: Wife of 52 years, Sharon, deceased; two sons, Tom Jr. and Mark; daughter, Kelly

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