Sergeant First Class Tom Stone remembered

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(Host) Tom Stone saw much of the world and made many friends in his fifty two years.

Stone was killed on Wednesday while serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.

VPR’s Steve Zind has this remembrance.

(Zind) Tom Stone had traveled to more places than most people dream of seeing. He literally walked around the world in an eight-year odyssey that began and ended in his hometown of Pomfret.

Alice Smith of Coralville, Iowa has known Stone for thirty years. She joined him for the Australian leg of his trip.

(Smith) “I remember the night he told me he decided he was going to walk around the world. He said he just thought it was something that he ought to do. He was always looking for people’s stories.”

(Zind) Stone was at once a free spirit, always up for an adventure and someone who was clearly focused even early in life on what he wanted to do.

Administration Secretary Mike Smith went to Woodstock High School with Stone, where the two made plans to join the service. Smith says the years didn’t change Stone.

(Smith) “Tom had this unique ability, even when he was young, to know what he wanted to do, which was to help people. So, there wasn’t much change. His motives were pure. He was a wonderful individual. He touched a lot of people.”

(Zind) Specialist Jason Brace of Saint Albans is one of about three dozen Vermont guardsmen stationed in Afghanistan. Brace bunked with Stone at their base in Herat Province. . Speaking by phone from Afghanistan Brace says Stone was someone his Vermont unit depended on.

(Brace) “He’s a person that everybody kind of looks toward and feels very comfortable around. That’s something that Stoney really portrayed. He had a healing touch to him. If you had a problem he would take the time to talk to you and calm you down. He was just a very kind person and that’s why I think he became a medic – Because he enjoyed taking care of people.”

(Zind) Brace says Stone spent much of his time teaching medical skills to Afghan soldiers. He also set up small medical clinics near bases to treat Afghan citizens.

Sally Britton of Norwich is Stone’s cousin. Britton says a photograph taken in Afghanistan captures an essential part of Stone.

(Britton) “Tom walking with Afghan kids, holding one child’s hand and three or four on the other side of him, looking up at him. That’s just who Tom was. There were always kids flocked around him.”

(Zind) Stone’s death marks the second time the tragedy of war has struck his family. Stone’s older brother Dana was a highly regarded Vietnam War photographer who disappeared in Southeast Asia.

Sally Britton says Tom Stone was the kind of person someone is lucky to meet once in their lifetime.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind

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