Tom Faley passed away in September of 2022, but his family waited six months to finally lay him to rest.
They waited, so that he could be buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
On Thursday March 23, he was one of 30 people laid to rest there.
“This was the place my brother always dreamed about,” said his brother Joe Faley. “We used to come here as little boys and go through the cemetery.”
That little boy went on to West Point Military Academy. He served in Vietnam and rose to the rank of colonel. He earned a Silver Star and the respect of his fellow soldiers. Some of them came to Arlington to salute him one final time.
“He had passion,” said Col. Eric Sundin (RET).
“In Germany, at the height of the Cold War, when we seriously thought we were going to war, we were at the height of readiness and it was his (Faley’s) responsbility to make sure we were ready to go,” said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock (RET). “He was the perfect leader for that kind of environment.”
After his decorated military career, Faley went on to another career in public service.
“I think the biggest legacy he left for me was service; not just service to his country, but service to his community,” said friend Ted Herman.
Faley spent 25 years on the South Middleton Township Board of Supervisors.
“Boiling Springs doesn’t have a mayor and South Middleton doesn’t have a mayor,” said neighbor Barrie Zais. “But we called him (Faley) the mayor because he was the person that knew what was going on.”
Faley loved to share his war stories. He especially loved to talk about the wallet that literally saved his “behind” in Vietnam. That story landed him in Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
“The wallet story will continue on and I have the wallet,” said daughter Rebecca Hodne.
Hodne said her dad also loved animals, which is why President George H.W. Bush’s former service dog, Sully, made the trip to Arlington to honor Faley.
“He would have been so proud that a former service dog to a former president was at his gravesite,” Hodne said. “I think my dad would be beaming. I know he would be.”
But it was someone far more special to Faley that was already waiting for him at Arlington.
His wife, Sue, passed in 2019.
“I’m very happy that my parents are not only reunited up in heaven, but their physical remains are together at Arlington National Cemetery,” Hodne said. “He was coming home to her, which was beautiful.”
“He really missed Sue,” Joe Faley said. “He wanted to be with Sue…and now he is.”
At Arlington, plots aren’t purchased; they are earned. There is no doubt Colonel Tom Faley earned his place.
“I literally felt a sense of my dad smiling down from heaven,” Hodne said. “Well done. I made it. I made it.’ I could just hear him.”