Tommy May credits his time in the United States Marine Corps with changing the course of his life and with teaching him life lessons that equipped him well for the challenges of leadership.

Tommy May credits his time in the United States Marine Corps with changing the course of his life and with teaching him life lessons that equipped him well for the challenges of leadership.


May in turn credits his father with making the difficult decision to pull him out of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; a decision that ultimately led to May’s military service.


"My Dad took me out of college because I was not being responsible or accountable," May said in a recent interview. "Ultimately, that decision and three years in the military gave me a better perspective on being responsible and accountable."


"My time in the Marine Corps was a life changing event; it was a defining moment for me," May said. "First and foremost, it taught me about discipline, dependability, loyalty, and last, but certainly not least for me, it taught me about what is important in life. The time with the military gave me what I needed the most, maturity. I was and still am proud to have been a Marine, but I am most proud to have served my country. My entire experience in the Marine Corps and Vietnam taught me a lot about life. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and I believe it helped me to deal with the "Challenge" [diagnosis with ALS] we face today."


"I think I am accurate in saying that my time in the military had a huge impact on changing my philosophy on life," May said. "Before the military, I had virtually no idea what I wanted to do in life or how I planned to accomplish it. I was terribly immature and felt like I was somehow mistreated and misunderstood. After the military, while I was still not sure what I wanted my career to be, I for sure knew that education was the key; hard work was the answer to getting the education that I would need to be successful. I joined the military because I was angry at my Dad for taking me out of school. I thought that I would show him. I did, and I went promptly to Vietnam. I went into the military as a restless, immature and confused young teenager, and I came out as a Man. I owe a lot to my Dad for having the fortitude to make the difficult decision of practicing "Tough Love"."


"The experience helped me better understand the importance of our military, and it has created a level of patriotism that has stayed with me today," May said. "It helped me understand what a great Country we live in and why it is important to do everything we can to preserve the freedoms we all enjoy. Whether we like some of the political decisions being made or not, I am reminded of how and why our soldiers, which are fighting for our freedoms, need to be supported and appreciated. I do my best to thank them for their service each time I have the opportunity. God Bless America."


May’s Marine Corps past was recognized during a retirement dinner held December 6 at the Pine Bluff Country Club. Two Marines made a special presentation; with one Marine presenting May with the Marine Corps flag and the other delivering a shadow box containing May’s patches, ribbons, medals and dog tags.


Charles Dobis is the man who literally changed the course of May’s life when the two met as United States Marine Corps recruiter and restless recruit in the mid-1960s.


"I always say I gave him his first permanent job," Dobis said with an unmistakable twinkle in his eye. "I was a recruiter down in El Dorado and this young man came up to me and I told him that I would change his life. He became a Marine and served in Vietnam. Years later I moved to Pine Bluff and went to Simmons. I saw the name Tommy May in the bank and I asked the teller if he was from El Dorado. She said that he was and pretty soon I was talking to him again face to face."