The initial decision to leave one’s country to work overseas requires a certain sense of adventure.  To stay for a long period of time and enjoy the experience takes a certain breed of person that is outside what the typical person considers to be normal. 

When living overseas one encounters individuals with very unique backgrounds and life stories.  One such individual was Tom O’Rourke.  

Tom was an American patriot with a zest for life.  In college he played quarterback for a small Division III school.  This would have provided anyone a good opportunity to get some playing time but as luck would have it he had to back up future Bengals quarterback, Kenny Anderson.    After college he did what any red blooded American would do in the middle of  a war, he joined the Marines and flew choppers in Viet Nam.  After his tour in Nam he joined Bell as a test pilot and found himself in Iran training Iranians to fly.  One morning he woke to a call saying, “Everyone has evacuated.  You now represent Bell in Iran”.  

After crossing the mountains he slipped over the border into Turkey.   Eventually he became a contract manager for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia.  That was where I met him.  His love of adventure led him to teach SCUBA to expats in the local community and play softball on our ball team.  During games his big toe kept dislocating and hindered his ability to play center field: so he went to the doctor and asked to have it amputated.  When the shocked doctor refused Tom gave up the game. 

Eventually Tom Retired  and he and his wife moved to the mountains of Washington near a permanent glacier.  He taught diving to the local Indians and she became a research marine biologist.  He was continually looking for that zip in life, that sense of adventure. 

Tom eventually lost his fight against leukemia.  I heard about it so late that my e-mail telling my friend good bye never reached him.  I often wonder if his early days in the jungles of Viet Nam coupled with deadly defoliants accelerated Toms departure.


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