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Godspeed Thomas Shereck, Petty Officer 3rd Class, US Navy

Peotone American Legion's Adopt A Soldier program adopted its newest "family" member during ceremony on April 6

Petty Officer 3rd class Thomas Fernando Shereck, United States Navy, is on his way to Hawaii, but he will not be working on a tan.

"Tom" to his loved ones, he will be stationed there for the next three-to-four years, and his job will be what all of America's armed forces do so well: Keep us and our freedoms safe.

Shereck, 22, was "adopted" on Sunday during a Coining Ceremony hosted by Adopt A Soldier and the Peotone American Legion.

Friends and family members--including his bride, Dayna Schultz, his parents Soledad and Tery Shereck, and mother-in-law Barbara Schultz--packed the Legion hall to wish him Godspeed and to say thank you for his service.

Presentations were made by the Legion Post and its members, the Kankakee Marine Corps League Detachment 1253, and the USSVI-United States Submarine Veterans, Inc., with Sue Wackerlin, co-founder of Adopt A Soldier serving as MC.

"It was such a great day," said Barbara Schultz.

"Sue and the Legion really know how to make these young men and women feel appreciated.

"I've known Tom since high school. He wrestled with my son, Ethan, and then in his junior, year he and my daughter, Dayna, began dating.

"Tom is a very kind, considerate and compassionate young man," she said of her son-in-law, "and he and my daughter were married in December, 2013. Tom had already been in the Navy since 2012. He enlisted in the nuclear engineering program to further his education and to serve his country. Tom comes from a military family, and I believe this played a large role in his decision.

"He and Dayna have been living in Charleston, SC, since they were married, as Tom was stationed there after graduating from the Naval Academy at Great Lakes. This is his first deployment, and they are both very excited about living in Hawaii."

Soledad Shereck, the amiable sailor's proud mom, noted that Tom is excited about his first deployment, and "is planning to re-enlist for two more years.

"After his service time, he wants to go back to school to finish his Mechanical Engineering degree.

"His father retired from the Air Force, his paternal grandfather served in the Air Force during the Korean War. His maternal grandfather is a retired Army Major.

"His dad, all his military friends and Boy Scouts had an influence on him," she added.

The Shereck family moved to Peotone from Berwyn when Tom was in fifth grade. He attended Peotone schools, graduated from PHS and was very active in school and church activities.

He was in sports (wrestling since eighth grade, football four years in high school), was an altar server at St. Anthony's since fifth grade, played trombone in the band since fifth grade, and was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, from Tiger to Eagle.

Among those he wants to thank are his dad, his mom and wife "for their support," and his "good friend and neighbor, Tom Allen."

"I deeply appreciate what Sue and the ladies at the Legion do for us when we are away from home," he added, "and how it really makes us feel thought of when we are so far from the ones we love."

"It was a beautiful and very emotional ceremony," said Soledad.

"We really appreciate Sue's effort and charisma. She is awesome and her energy is contagious and inspiring. She has great helpers in the Adopt A Soldier program.

Dayna also thanked the Legion and Adopt A Soldier, as well as her husband.

"I would like the thank not only my husband for his service, but all the men and women who are serving or have served in the military. Thank you to Sue and the Peotone American Legion for all they do for these military members. They truly go above and beyond the call of duty."

The Peotone American Legion Adopt A Soldier program hosts Coining Ceremonies and welcome home events for all members of all branches of the American military. Once "adopted," soldiers get "forever" support from the Post, including help getting home if a family member is critically ill, assistance when their apartments have been burglarized, and sometimes, "just a shoulder to cry on," noted AAS co-founder Sue Wackerlin.

"Once they're 'adopted,' they're 'ours'," she has said.

She and her volunteers work tirelessly on behalf of those who serve. More information is available on Peotone Adopt A Soldier Facebook, or at the Legion Post.

--karenhaave@comcast.net

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