It was a full house Thursday night at the Coronado Public Library for the WWII Paratrooper Tom Rice & the Portraits of Honor event. Hosted by Commissioner of Public Art Brad Willis, the evening included an exhibit of WWII Veteran portraits, music by the “Sweethearts of Swing,” and the unveiling and dedication of a portrait of Coronado’s hometown hero Tom Rice.
Tom Rice was born in Coronado on August 15, 1921. He graduated from Coronado High School in 1940 and was a lifeguard on our beaches. He volunteered for the Army in 1943, became a paratrooper, joined the 101st Airborne Division and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944. Tom also fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, where he got shot twice by a sniper on September 22, 1944.
Tom returned to California, graduated from San Diego State and taught high school social sciences and history in Chula Vista. In June of 2019 at age 97, Tom jumped again into Normandy for its annual D-Day celebration. This year, on August 15, Tom celebrated his 100th birthday and jumped onto the beach here in Coronado were he was a lifeguard some 80 years ago.
Tom Rice & The Portraits of Honor, a collaborative project between the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission and the library, are now on exhibit in the Resource Room of the library.