November 2018 Veteran and Veteran Supporter of the Month; Dr. Tom Waters and Charm McElree



By: Megan Way Photos by: Lawrence Oravetz

On Thursday, November 15, Dr. Tom Waters, and Charm McElree were both honored as the November Veteran of the Month and Veteran Supporter of the Month at the Grant Sawyer Building. They were both presented a certificate signed by Governor Sandoval. There were 50-60 people in attendance.

The opening ceremony was by Kat Miller who introduced the Governor and the recipients

Doctor Thomas R.E. Waters was born in Chicago Illinois. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in July 1960 after graduating high school. After basic training, he was stationed at Shaw AFB, South Carolina before going to Vietnam as a Staff Sergeant in 1966. Although exempt from serving in the war-zone because his younger brother (Melvin) was killed in Vietnam in 1965, he volunteered because of his dedication to duty and love of country.

In Vietnam, Doctor Waters was assigned to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Bien Hoa Air Base and later transferred to the 366th TFW at Danang Air Base. At Danang, he was wounded in a midnight rocket attack while working as an Egress (ejection seat) technician on an F-4C aircraft in July 1967 and was honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant (E-6) in 1968. Doctor Waters returned to Chicago and, still feeling the desire to serve, joined the Illinois Air National Guard where he was selected for promotion to Master Sergeant (E-7) while attending Olive-Harvey Community College. In 1971, he transferred to the Air Force ROTC program at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation with his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in May 1973. He returned to active duty in August 1973.

Doctor Waters served in several Air Force assignments as an aircraft maintenance officer in positions of flight line OIC, propulsion OIC, maintenance supervisor, acting Field Maintenance Squadron commander and Chief, Maintenance Management branch (73-78). He retired from active duty on
1 August 1997 at the grade of Lieutenant Colonel with over 32 years of active duty service.

Since then he’s kept himself busy in the veteran community. He regularly writes as a columnist for Veterans Reporters News’ column “Politics 101”. Doctor Waters is also life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), life member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, member of the American Legion, and also serves as a Local Elder in two area churches.

“This is quite an honor to have been nominated by Dan Peterson (Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart) and to receive the Award from Governor Sandoval’ he said.

Volunteer in Nevada – TV Show (Pahrump Live with Dr. Tom Waters), former member of the Veterans Memorial Advisory Board, member of the Community Outreach Commission, member of the Great Basin College Steering Committee, member of the Nevada Center of Public Policy Dialogue, life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), life member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, member of the American Legion, he was a Community Presenter of the Act of Kindness Awards with Channel 46, and also serves as a Local Elder in two area churches. In the November 2010 General Election, he was elected to serve a 4-year term on the Pahrump Town Board.

Veteran Supporter of the Month:

In 2012, Veteran Supporter of the Month, Charm McElree retired from the Victor Valley Union High School District in Victorville, California after 22 years of service. In March of 2014 she and her husband moved to Boulder City.

During the last 7 years of her working career, Charm was the Coordinator of the Victor Valley Adult School where she was introduced to a program called Operation Recognition and graduated 10 veterans. This is a program each state has created specifically to award eligible veterans from WWII, Korean War and Vietnam wars who left high school to serve their country in the Armed Forces and did not graduate. Operation Recognition honors these eligible veterans with their high school diplomas.

Carrying on her passion into retirement and after moving to Nevada, she felt the need to continue her work. Since moving here, she has assisted 21 additional veterans receive their diplomas.

The presentation of this award is due to the fact that Charm works entirely on her own from her home. Once receiving a call from an interested veteran, she works with the veteran from beginning to the end. She contacts school districts, talks with Superintendents and school board members, whatever is necessary to get the diploma for the deserving eligible veteran. She wanted to tell the journeys to graduation of a couple veterans to you.

Ed Hall served in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He is one of the few survivors left from the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Ed received his high school diploma from Greenwood High School in South Carolina. After receiving his diploma, the fellow members of the Daylite Masonic Lodge #44 in Las Vegas, gave him a ceremony giving him a chance to also walk in a graduation.

Norm Johnson learned about the Operation Diploma program once returning from the Honor Flight. Although he received his GED while in the service, he was awarded his diploma from the San Diego School District. Norm Joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950 at the age of 17 and would eventually service in the Korean War as a special security detail for General Douglas MacArthur.

Anyone can nominate candidates for this award.  Submissions are reviewed by the members of the Nevada Veterans Service Commission (VSC) at its quarterly meetings who forward their recommendations to the Governor. The program is administered by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.

Note: If possible, please submit a photo of the nominee or an organizational photo.
Nomination Packets can be filled out online, saved, printed, signed and mailed to:

Nevada Department of Veterans Services

Attn: David Johnson

6630 S. McCarran Blvd. Building C, Suite 204

Reno, NV 89509

Completed Packets can also be scanned and emailed to David Johnson at or faxed to 775-688-1656