Jun. 12—Thomas Andrew Meyers II, a retired registered nurse whose long career as a Coast Guard reservist included service in the first Gulf War, died Wednesday in Swanton Health Care. He was 56.
Mr. Meyers of East Toledo learned five years ago that he had advanced prostate cancer and developed pneumonia last month, said his wife, Stacey Meyers.
He received a nursing degree from Owens Community College and started in the mid-1990s as a nurse at the former Riverside Hospital in North Toledo. He'd initially served as a security officer there, said Tim Rickheim, a friend who met Mr. Meyers in the late 1980s in the Coast Guard Reserve.
"He liked people, and he liked to help people," Mr. Rickheim said. "Being security, he saw the nurses and doctors, and it perked his interest."
Mr. Meyers' wife said: "He liked to learn things, and serving people. He liked the science of it."
Once on duty, he worked in the emergency room, but he sought assignments throughout the hospital, including in its pediatrics unit.
"He wanted a taste of everything," his wife said.
After Riverside closed in 2002, Mr. Meyers served as nursing director of, in turn, Josina Lott Residential & Community Services; Swanton Health Care, and Oak Leaf Village.
"He loved to work with the staff as a mentor and educator, helping them be the best," his wife said.
He was born Feb. 16, 1965, to Frances and Thomas A. Meyers and grew up in Point Place. In 1980, he became an Eagle Scout and received a bronze palm.
He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1982, a year before he graduated from Central Catholic High School. He served as a reservist at Station Toledo at Bayview Park, Mr. Rickheim said. When Operation Desert Shield was declared in August, 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Mr. Meyers and Mr. Rickheim were activated with the Coast Guard's Port Security Unit, based in Port Clinton, and sent to Quantico, Va.
When they were sent to Bahrain, their duty was to protect Naval assets. With the onset of war, Desert Shield became Desert Storm. Mr. Meyers was on patrol when a Patriot missile intercepted an Iraqi Scud missile overhead.
"Tom was definitely hit with misting rocket fuel or sarin gas," Mr. Rickheim said.
The men heard President George H.W. Bush announce the start of warfare — Desert Storm — over Radio Bahrain.
"We both looked at each other and said, 'Whoa!'" Mr. Rickheim recalled. "We're supposed to be in the Great Lakes enforcing boating rules, and we're floating around in the Gulf."
President Bush declared a ceasefire, because Kuwait had been liberated, at the end of February, 1991. Once home, Mr. Meyers and Mr. Rickheim took part in the National Victory Celebration in Washington and the ticker-tape parade in New York.
"There was a lot of patriotism," Mr. Rickheim said. "It was something that happens once in a lifetime, and it was unbelievable. It was like the end of World War II."
Mr. Meyers retired from the Coast Guard in 2004 as a petty officer second class. He took an Honor Flight to Washington in 2019, with Mr. Rickheim his chaperone.
"He took his duty seriously. He loved his country, and he had a lot of pride in the Coast Guard," Mr. Rickheim said.
Mr. Meyers also had a law-enforcement degree from Owens, his wife said.
Historical re-enacting was a favorite pastime, especially at Seven Eagles education center near Grand Rapids, with Mr. Meyers taking the role of a British soldier during the French and Indian War of the 18th Century.
Surviving are his wife, the former Stacey Rish, his life partner since 1998 whom he married Nov. 2, 2016, and his mother, Frances Meyers.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Sunday at Freck Funeral Chapel in Oregon, where funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Monday.
The family suggests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.