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Memorial Day: A Small Business Owner Honors His Father’s Service

3 Mins read

For those who like history with a little mystery, there is a delightful project in the works. The Restoring Valor Project is the brainchild of Brian Thomas, owner of Paul Davis of East Michigan. The launch date was April 10th and the cleaning and restoration of these objects will lead into Memorial Day and beyond.

The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction, and disaster mitigation and while the company has been around for over 55 years, Brian Thomas launched his Paul Davis business in 2021, only saying he wished he had done so sooner.

“While I enjoyed my former corporate career in marketing and branding some of the biggest names in the automotive world,” shared Brian, “this new career helps me with my passion, which is what The Restoring Valor Project is all about. The essence of the project is to restore precious & priceless items that many military veterans and their families have in their possession.

My father, Bruce Thomas, served in the Vietnam War. He was in the Army and was ‘in-country’ for two years (1967-68). After his first year, he was discharged from the military so that he could attain ‘civilian’ status. This enabled him to join the CIA and serve as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. He lived with members of that army for an entire year. At the end of his tour, he was re-enlisted into the military so that he could be formally discharged and sent home. He was awarded three Purple Hearts…as he was wounded three times in combat. His rank was Staff Sargent and the things he had from those days gave me the idea for this special project.”

Brian is one of four boys born to Staff Sargent Thomas. Brian explained that his Dad kept all of his items from the war in a box at home which is an oft heard practice for returning service members.

“Over the years, he slowly began to give some of these things to my brothers and I for safe-keeping. His dog tags at first. Then other things. He really did not talk about his service much until we were in our teens. Then a few of the stories came out…and photos…and I was genuinely blown away,” said Brian.

“The way my mind is wired,” Brian added, “I look for points of convergence between what we have expertise in and the genuine and real passions shared by people. For me…I’m now a guy who happens to own a business that specializes in restoring all kinds of property. We possess specialized technology and expertise in-house to do it. I’m also a guy who deeply reveres his father and grandfather…and have long been in awe of their military service. It’s been a passion for me…and for many people in my life. The Restoring Valor Project makes me feel closer to my father, who passed away in November of 2007 after a very intense battle with Multiple Myeloma which has been associated with Agent Orange.”

When Brian heard from the local VFW recently, and found they were looking for experts in the area who could restore some of the precious objects they had been given over the years, he and his team stepped right up.

The restoration team even went to the VFW with trucks recently and packed up hundreds of pieces. Among them, dog tags, medals, pieces of equipment and other related items, many of which have been passed down from generation to generation and are imbued with deep sentimental value. While these may be simple physical objects, they are also the irreplaceable symbolic embodiment of the military service and sacrifice of so many Americans and their families according to Brian.

“These items represent the unrivaled valor and courage of the best among us and they deserve to be treated with extreme care and reverence.

One of the techniques we use in the restoration of many of the objects is Ultrasonic Cleaning. Technicians load soiled items into an ultrasonic device – which looks much like a large industrial washing machine – filled with cleaning solution. Ultrasonic sound frequencies – far above the level that humans can perceive – then buzz through the liquid. The sound waves, which can be seen as ripples on the surface, generate millions of incredibly tiny bubbles that churn through and against every surface to dislodge soot, bacteria, grime, and other contamination.”

To bring this lovely story to an even lovelier conclusion, Brian’s team got together discreetly and restored and shadow-boxed many of Bruce Thomas’ treasures he brought back from Viet Nam which are pictured and identified in this article.

Thomas concluded, “I could not have been more touched. And now we are excited to see what other treasures might be uncovered and just how uplifting it will be for so many people around the Memorial Day holiday when we honor our vets.”

Rhonda Sanderson is a franchise specialist and publicist with 41 years in the industry. Visit Brian’s website at www.pauldaviseastmichigan.com or for franchise info www.pauldavisbusiness.com.

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