Thomas C. Flowers, the state commander of the American Legion and chairman of Milford’s Veterans, Ceremony & Parade Commission, will be grand marshal and keynote speaker for Milford’s Memorial Day Parade this weekend.
The parade will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at the Parsons Government Center and make its way to the Broad Street Green.
Flowers, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, was born in Waterbury in 1947 and raised in Stratford. After graduating from Bunnell High School in 1965, he hesitated while considering what he wanted to do next.
“With the Vietnam War raging, Uncle Sam quickly decided what his immediate future would have in store,” reads a synopsis of Flowers’ life. “He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in Oct. 1966 as a disbursement accounting specialist. His first assignment after basic training and technical training was Clark Air Base, Philippines, in support of the Vietnam War.”
Subsequent assignments to New York, Florida, and Alaska followed. In 1974, Flowers got his dream assignment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Co., where he served for five years before volunteering for a one-year remote assignment to Iceland.
Following that year he returned to the Air Force Academy where the commandant of cadets selected him to serve as one of five military training instructors with the responsibility to train and lead future U.S. Air Force officers.
He ended his Air Force Academy tour as superintendent of the comptroller division.
In 1985, the comptroller of the Air Force selected Flowers to serve as a human resources superintendent with the responsibility for assigning some 5,500 comptroller personnel where needed to meet the mission of the Air Force and specifically the comptroller career field.
In 1987, he was promoted to the grade of chief master sergeant, and the commanding general of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service selected him to serve as the senior enlisted adviser of the command. He served in that capacity for six years, traveling some 250 days per year to Air Force and Army installations in all 50 states and some 40 countries.
Flowers and his commanding general retired from active duty in 1993 and together they took jobs with Specialized Marketing, Inc. in Dallas, Texas.
In 2004, while working out of Maryland, a high school classmate found Flowers on the internet and put him in touch with one of his high school sweethearts who was living in Milford. Their reconnection after some 40 years resulted in Flowers’ second retirement from Specialized Marketing in 2005 and his decision to move back to his Connecticut roots to be close to his family and his newly rediscovered sweetheart.
“A story right out of a romance novel,” Flowers said.
Flowers joined the American Legion and in 2010 was elected commander of American Legion Post 196 in Milford. He also volunteered to join the Leadership Council for the Friends of Fisher House Connecticut, a charitable organization committed to building a Fisher House on the campus of the West Haven VA hospital where the loved ones of hospitalized veterans could stay free of charge for as long as necessary. He then ascended to district commander of the American Legion for New Haven County. In 2011, he volunteered to serve on the Veterans, Ceremony and Parade Commission for the City of Milford. He is still a commissioner and now serves as chairman.
The Fisher House became a reality in 2018 and at the same time Flowers was elected commander of the 18,000 member American Legion, Department of Connecticut.
“If volunteering on behalf of our military service members, our veterans, and their families is considered a job, then I have no plans to retire again,” Flowers said.
Organizations that would like to march in Milford’s Memorial Day Parade may call Russ Edwards at 203-876-0914 or Flowers at 203-444-5351.
The Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 26, in front of Milford City Hall at 9:45 a.m. All are invited to attend.