At Northeast Paving, our team is strengthened by the dedication and leadership of numerous United States military veterans. Thomas Markle, Area Safety Manager for our Maine division, is one of them. Thomas served our country for a total of 24 years in the US Navy, the US Navy Reserve, and Maine National Guard.
Thomas’ career with the US Navy began in 1979, the year he graduated high school. His motivation for joining, he admits, wasn’t particularly patriotic. “Truth be told, I got mad at my dad and enlisted. We had an argument about what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I would be smart and show him by joining the Navy. He just said, ‘Good for you.’ I think he was just happy he got out of paying for my college…”
Not surprisingly, Thomas says he had no aspirations at the time for a long military career, or a short one for that matter. “I had no expectations one way or the other,” he says. “I wanted to get out of small-town Pennsylvania, and do something different.”
As it turned out, Thomas embraced military life and to his own surprise built a long and successful career for himself in the US Navy. After completing Aviation Electronics Technician training, he was stationed in Norfolk, VA and was soon assigned to a sea squadron, where he served three deployments on the US John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier.
After eight years, Thomas left the military to rejoin civilian life. He moved to Bath, Maine, where he worked as a marine electrician for five months—long enough to meet, fall in love with, and marry his wife of 35 years—before deciding his time in the military was not quite over.
“We all have made our sacrifices, even if only sacrificing our time. We’ve done our part for the country, not just for the United States but for other countries that are aligned with ours. Hopefully, we’ve made the world safer.”
When he returned, Thomas enrolled in Instructor Training and became a master specialist. For three years he taught the aircraft he worked on, achieving the rank of First Class Petty Officer and overseeing 26 instructors. He went on to serve sea duty on three additional aircraft carriers, before leaving the Navy in 1997 after 17 years of service. However, he continued his military career, serving in the US Navy Reserves and the Maine Army National Guard before completely transitioning to civilian life.
Thomas has since built a career in safety, working for the Maine Department of Transportation and multiple roadway contractors throughout the state. Today, he serves our company as the Area Safety Manager throughout the entire state of Maine. He credits his Navy training as preparing him for his current role: “I continue to draw on the discipline and leadership I developed in the military. I know who my manager is, what they’re responsible for. And the same goes for me. In our industry there is chain of command that’s structured like the military.”
When it comes to safety, Thomas says the risks are just as real in both military and construction. “I wasn’t on a combat field with a weapon, but I’ve seen people killed on aircraft carriers because they weren’t doing what they’re supposed to. So, I know what happens when things go wrong, and it’s no different out here in the field.”
When asked what Veterans Day means to him personally, Thomas describes the sacrifice made by all who served. “I feel we all have done our part,” he explains. “We all have made our sacrifices, even if only sacrificing our time. We’ve done our part for the country, not just for the United States but for other countries that are aligned with ours. Hopefully, we’ve made the world safer.”
Northeast Paving is grateful to Thomas and the many other veterans who contribute to our team’s success. On Veterans Day, and throughout the entire year, we thank them for their service and sacrifice.