Captain Thomas Herzig ’84, Distinguished Professional
- Carlos Barron
Captain Herzig has also contributed to the well-being of humanity in many ways, but he is known even more as a mentor and educator who inspires others. One friend and fellow Southwestern alumnus says, “He is an excellent listener who shares his wisdom in a very well-thought-out way.”
A science major and member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Southwestern, Captain Herzig, like so many other alumni, met people on campus who would become lifelong friends. One friend and fellow fraternity brother says, “Tom is rock solid; there is no challenge he is not willing to tackle. He is unshakeable, even as he works through the most difficult problems.”
Highly accomplished in both the military and in business, Captain Herzig has the respect and admiration of people around the world. However, he is not boastful about his accolades. “You have to pry his successes out of him,” says a friend.
Described as compassionate, sincere and humble, Captain Herzig has impressed upon numerous junior officers what it means to be a leader, a model Naval Officer, and a member of a Wardroom family. Not only is he dedicated to his career as a Naval Officer, a Medical Service Corps Officer, and a Research Physiologist, Captain Herzig is also a mentor and role model. “He has an open-door policy, and he makes a point of speaking to and visiting with everyone in his department several times a week,” says one junior officer.
She also says that it is not not unusual for Captain Herzig to be there for junior officers, and even their spouses, in good times and bad. “Captain Herzig and his wife, Blair, have always made me and other officers feel welcome by inviting us to their home for the holidays. Both he and Blair have always made us feel like they were our ‘adopted parents’.”
Blair, Captain Herzig’s wife of more than 22 years, says their marriage is a relationship born out of mutual respect and trust and that, “We are partners in every sense of the word.” She describes her husband as reliable, competitive, giving, intelligent, and ethical. She relays a story of Captain Herzig going above and beyond to encourage and mentor a junior officer in a way that no one else had, that the office found the motivation and persistence to complete his Ph.D. She explains, “In stepping in as a pillar in the life of this mentee, Captain Herzig paid his debt forward, not because he had to but because it was the right thing to do to ensure that the next generation of leaders is positioned to take the baton.”
Another fraternity brother describes Captain Herzig as a leader of quiet dignity who will never expand on his numerous career accomplishments. He believes that one of the most heroic contributions that Captain Herzig has made to humanity was the year he spent in Baghdad helping to re-establish a healthcare system. “It is not an exaggeration to say that Tom was at risk on a daily basis, but he was always focused on a greater good.”
Captain Herzig is also known as a friend who makes sure that his family and friends feel loved and appreciated. One longtime friend shares, “My daughter idolizes both Tom and Blair and as a dad looking for role models for his 18-year-old, they are the best!”
However, Captain Herzig is not always focused on professional activities. He is an avid marathoner and triathlete, he makes “killer homemade Ghirardelli chocolate brownies that are to die for,” and has even been known to wear Halloween socks for a command uniform inspection.
For his professional accomplishments, both in the military and in business, as well as for his unending efforts toward encouraging others’ academic pursuits, careers and life experiences, The Association of Southwestern University Alumni is proud to present Captain Thomas Herzig with a Distinguished Professional Award for 2015.