Two time Purple Heart recipient Tom Rhen began his education in a one room school house, and he graduated from NL in 1966. After graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines at age 17 and completed trainings at Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, and in Hawaii. He was then deployed to Vietnam, where his division was stationed along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), at a base called Con Thien. Fighting was intense, and both CBS News and Time Magazine did features on the troops. Rhen’s division received a Presidential Unit Citation for their actions there. In 1968, Rhen received minor wounds when his company was ambushed. Four months later, he was shot in battle several times and left for dead. He was found the next day when soldiers returned to recover the dead bodies. Rhen was discharged from the Marines in 1974 and was awarded two Purple Heart medals.
After returning home, Rhen settled down in Lebanon and earned a degree in Fire Science from HACC. He worked as a county dispatcher through the Civil Defense, now known as the Emergency Management Agency. Rhen was also employed as a firefighter for the city of Lebanon, where he worked for 36 years. In addition, he served as a former president and vice president of the Chemical Fire Company. Rhen was an EMT for the First Aid and Safety Patrol ambulance; he served as president and board member of that organization, where he helped to establish their medic unit. Along with members of his military company, Rhen also helped to establish the Thai Thi Boi School in Vietnam. Interested in history, particularly the Civil War, Rhen volunteered at Gettysburg in the National Parks Cannon Shop, repairing and restoring battlefield cannons. Rhen has three brothers, four children, and seven grandchildren. He has enjoyed cooking, hunting and fishing, playing golf, riding motorcycle, and traveling to Delaware. He is a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. Rhen currently resides in Campbelltown. Northern Lebanon is honored to call veteran Tom Rhen one of our own.
To read more about Rhen’s time in Vietnam, click here.