2019 Tillman Scholar

Tom McGrath

Duke University

“We have limited time here on earth. Make an impact; never forget to kiss your loved ones at night, hug them and always say I love you.”

In 1998 Tom’s desire to join the SEAL Teams outweighed his desire to finish his business degree. He enlisted as a third generation military service member ready to give the Navy four years in the event SEAL training did not work out. Twenty-one years later, he finds himself preparing to transition to the private sector after a blessed yet arduous career.

Throughout his military career, Tom has had the honor of leading, following and adapting on many combat operations with the best warriors on the planet. These operations led him to remote locations where he landed at a variety of airfields across the globe. During this time, he discovered a fascination with military and civilian aviation. He eventually became an FAA commercial single and multi-engine pilot and certified flight instructor while studying aviation best practices and business models.

His experiences in the military only strengthened his desire to finish his business degree. An entrepreneur at heart, Tom wants to take his SEAL leadership experience and his aviation expertise and create something well-intentioned. In witnessing the devastation that has been produced over nearly two decades of combat operations, he wants to found a small aviation company with a charitable side dedicated to gold star families and angel flight assistance.