At Virginia Paving Company, our team is strengthened by the dedication and leadership of numerous United States military veterans. Joel Thomas, Equipment Manager for our Northern Virginia division, is one of them. Joel served our country for four years in the US Marine Corps, followed by an additional two years’ reserve duty, before entering the paving industry in October of 1982. Today, he continues to employ many of the skills and leadership qualities he developed in the Marines.
Like many who serve our country, Joel came from a military background. His father’s career in the Air Force introduced Joel to military life at an early age. He recalls spending his elementary school years in Libya, where his father was stationed, and being forced to evacuate because of the Six-Day War.
“I was exposed to military life growing up,” Joel says. “It’s in my blood, and was something that I always wanted to do myself.”
Despite knowing in his gut he would likely serve at some point in his life, Joel’s decision to enlist was more spur of the moment. “I was at the movies with my girlfriend in 1975, and I saw a Marine Corps recruiter outside. I signed up right there on the spot.”
From there, Joel went to Parris Island and Camp Pendleton in California for training, and was then stationed aboard the USS America for two years in the Mediterranean. The experience of joining, he says, was made easier by the fact that he had spent the previous summer working as a brick layer’s apprentice. “When I went to Parris Island, they did not hurt me, because I was in great shape. But I had to adjust to waking up at 4am to the sound of a Drill Instructor throwing a trash can down the barracks, yelling at you to get up.”
“Organization, goal-setting, follow through. Being on-time. Doing what you say you’re going to do. Building a team. These are all qualities that are critical to my job today, and I learned them in the Marines.”
Following four years of active service, Joel served another two in the reserves. Then he embarked on civilian life, taking a job with Newton Asphalt in Virginia in 1982. Although his service in the Marines was not mechanical, Joel says the military instilled qualities which have proven invaluable to the construction and paving industry.
“Military experience gave me discipline,” he explains. “Organization, goal-setting, follow through. Being on-time. Doing what you say you’re going to do. Building a team. These are all qualities that are critical to my job today, and I learned them in the Marines.”
Virginia Paving Company is grateful to Joel and the many other veterans who contribute to our team’s success. On Veterans Day, and throughout the entire year, we thank them for their service and sacrifice.