GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gators Sports Properties and Air Pros USA came together for the annual “Saluting Those Who Serve” initiative to recognize a local veteran. Working with the Alachua County Veteran Services Division, Air Pros USA and the Florida Gators awarded 88-year-old Eddie Thomas, a decorated Korean War veteran, with a brand-new air conditioning unit and installation, free of charge.
Thomas was nominated by the Alachua County Veteran Services Division because of his service to the country, and he has a 23-year-old A/C unit in need of being replaced. Thomas served in the United States Air Force from 1954-1958, as well as during the Korean War. His service included overseeing security at his base in Germany as well as the K-9 units. Thomas said that the military was ahead of its times in terms of diversity and inclusion to put him in such a supervisory role at a young age.
"I am so pleased that our local Korean War veteran, Eddie Thomas, was selected for this wonderful opportunity,” said Kim Davis, executive director for Alachua County Veteran Services Division. “Our Veteran Services Team is very dedicated to our veteran community as we strive to help them with their needs and when something special comes along, it warms our hearts to see a deserving veteran receive a life changing opportunity."
During active-duty Thomas earned a Good Conduct Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Outstanding Unit Award, Small Arms Expert Award, the National Defense Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal. Thomas, who is legally blind, still volunteers and serves on the Korean War Veterans of America Color Guard at veteran events and funerals.
“Like many who call South Florida home, we are passionate about the Florida Gators and giving back to the community we serve,” said Anthony Perera, president of Air Pros USA. “Honoring those who have served our country will always be a priority for Air Pros USA not only with donations and giveaways but also in our hiring initiatives and event support.”
“We are excited that Air Pros, like several other prestigious companies, is joining us in our annual Saluting Those Who Serve initiative in supporting the Florida Gators,” said Scott Stricklin, athletics director at the University of Florida. “They are truly exemplary not only as one of the fastest growing Heating and Air Conditioning companies in the state, but also in their commitment to veterans and giving back.”