Tom Swanson ’61

Tom Swanson, known to his FIJI brothers as “Gramps” is the son of Victor and Ann Swanson. He was born and reared in the small town of Prescott, Arizona. Even as a young man, Tom was an outstanding athlete and at age 12 was a member of the first Arizona team to be crowned Little League State Champions. He attended Prescott High School, where he was the starting quarterback of the football team.

After completing high school, Tom moved to Tucson at attend the University of Arizona where he pledged Phi Gamma Delta and entered the Army ROTC Program. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1961 as a Distinguished Military Graduate and began his career with the United States Army on May 31st, 1961. Tom was trained as an Infantry Commander at Fort Benning, Georgia, went to Jump School and learned to speak Vietnamese. His overseas assignments included a tour in Germany (1962) and two tours in Vietnam (1967 and 1970). Tom received many honors during his military service, including two Bronze Stars for heroism, Meritorious Service Metal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Vietnam Service Medal [5 Campaigns] and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

During his last tour in Vietnam, Tom became seriously ill from exposure to Agent Orange during a helicopter assault operation. He returned stateside for treatment and finished his Army career while serving at Travis Air Force Base, receiving Vietnamese refugees as the United States abandoned the war in Vietnam and began downsizing the military. Tom never recovered from the effects of his combat service and was honorably discharged from the Army on October 31st, 1975.

After leaving the Army, Tom relocated his family to his hometown of Prescott, where he dedicated himself to raising his children and starting a new career underwriting insurance for Equitable Life. In 1985 he co-founded The Old Mill Realty in Prescott. Tom currently resides in Mesa, Arizona.

Tom has three devoted children: Susan Michelle Swanson Grady, who lives in Australia, Charles Tom “Tee” Swanson, Jr., and Patrick Scott Swanson, both of whom live in the Phoenix area. His devoted brother, Bob, also lives in the Phoenix area. Bob’s tribute to his brother is that Tom is an American hero who in hilived the credo of Duty, Honor, and Country.

Gramps was one of those guys that you just wanted to be around. He was full of life and enjoyed it to the fullest. He loved Phi Gamma Delta and was devoted to his FIJI brothers, especially his pledge brothers, who are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of their initiation as active members of Phi Gamma Delta during Homecoming this year. Due to his health, Gramps will not be physically among us, but his presence is felt by his FIJI brothers, all of whom are thankful for and humbled by his service to our country. It is fitting and proper that we honor Gramps as a member of the Upsilon Alpha Hall of Fame.