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Tom was born on January 2, 1986 in Mt. Clemens, MI. He attended Bullitt Central High School where he was a part of the school's Army Junior ROTC and drill team and graduated from Riverview High School in 2004. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, I II Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC. He is survived by his wife, the former Allyson Salyer; his parents, Kurt and Rose Echols of Naples, FL; his sister, Becca Miller; and brother, Alex Echols, both of Shepherdsville; his grandparents, Jerry and Sharon Echols of Sierra Vista, AZ, and Donald and Mary Wight of Algonac, MI; and his great-grandmothers, Eleanor Hoffman of Seattle, WA, and Zella Wight of Lansing, MI.
Some people say that their love was love at first sight. Tom and I aren't like everyone else. We met at a party in January 2004 that was for a mutual friend. He came off as the complete opposite as what I was looking for in a boyfriend, he was wild and crazy, assertive and had just joined the Marines and was scheduled to go to boot camp in a few months. I was 17 and he just turned 18 both of us not looked for much out of a teenage romance. We were complete opposites in every way, it actually took Tom a week to even convince me to go on a date with him. After that first date it was all said and done. We were going to be together forever. Since we did come from such different backgrounds people didn't give us much of a chance, but we were fighters we stuck it out through boot camp, SOI and Tom being stationed 700 miles away at Camp LeJeune. I started my senior year of High School with Tom working up to his first deployment. While Tom was home for Christmas leave he asked me to marry him and I said yes. Then in March 2005, Tom was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq for 7 months. Those were some of the toughest 7 months of my life.
When he came home in October is one of the happiest I can ever remember. I started attending a small private college. Tom accepted a temporary place in the local recruitment center where he would be home for a month on recruiting duty. This started wedding talk while turned into just getting married at a court house but I could never get home from school early enough to do so. So on November 21, 2005 he randomly shows up on campus and we go to the court house to get married only to turn the circuit clerk judge was out for the day. We were bummed at first but then found out that the justice of the peace would marry us if we went to his barbor shop. So we walked to his barbor and got married! It was nothing big or fancy, it was the fact that we were finally married that really counted. We always planned to have a big fancy celebration with our families but never had the chance. After my school ended in May I moved to North Carolina to be with Tom. That summer is still to this day my favorite summer of all time. We really got to connect and go back to the people each other knew from years ago. Even with the ever lingering thought in the back of our heads that Tom was scheduled to deploy again in September.
On August 31, 2006 we found out that I was pregnant, due May 12, 2007. Then on September 6, Tom left for Ramadi, Iraq. That was the hardest day of my life. Watching him step on that bus was the most pain I have ever been in. I moved back home to stay with family while Tom was in Iraq, then during the early morning hours of December 5 I got the dreaded knock on the door, Tom had been killed the day before while on post.
The next 2 weeks I don't remember much, which is probably for the best. The baby was very demanding of me at that time, I always say if it wasn't for the baby, I wouldn't have made it through those 2 weeks. On December 28, I found out that our baby would be a little girl and I named her Julia Marie because that's what Tom picked out. The next 5 months were filled with missing Tom, worrying about the rest of the unit still in Iraq, and going to doctor's appointments. Finally, on May 16, my doctor had me induced and I gave birth to our beautiful little (Tom Jr) girl, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces, 15 hours later on May 17. Julia is now 3 and a half still looks and acts just like Tom and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have begun to move on, I'm back in school, set to get my Bachelor's in December of 2012 finally accepting the facts of my life and dealing with them as the 4 year mark just passed. Now my main goal in life is to make sure Julia grows up know who her daddy is and why he is a hero.
Specialist Arronn Fields