MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE -- The order of the Long Leaf Pine award is given to a select few who have served their community for a long period of time and Thomas F. McGee earned this award July 2.
Major Gen. Robert C. Dickerson, the Marine Corps Base commanding general, presented McGee the award at the base theater.
“He epitomizes all those leadership traits we hold in today’s leaders,” Dickerson said.
The Long Leaf Pine Award is given to individuals who have a proven record of service to the state of North Carolina through a long history of service to their community and their chosen profession, according to Bill Pearson, a friend of McGee who recommended McGee for the award.
“This award covers a long period of time over an entire career,” Pearson said. “All we had to do was put in his credentials and it flew through.”
McGee did not know he was going to be receiving such a prestigious award until they pulled out the award.
“This is a real honor and it’s something unexpected,” said McGee. “I really do appreciate this.”
Along with getting the award, McGee was also inducted in to the High Point University Walk of Distinction. He graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in 1954. He also had a street named after him. The entrance to the Lejeune High School was renamed Tom McGee Way in his honor.
“We wanted to give him something permanent,” said Scott Clarke, a friend of McGee who also recommended McGee for the award. “Something that would stay even after he is gone.”
The High Point, N.C., native has served the Lejeune High School and North Carolina community for over 30 years through his teaching, coaching and community work, according to Clarke.
During his time teaching at Lejeune High School, McGee taught physical education for the entire Camp Lejeune School system and he also coached football, basketball, baseball and golf along with several other sports.
“If it wasn’t for Coach McGee, a lot of the graduates wouldn’t have graduated,” said Sgt. Stephen Brunner, one of McGee’s former students. “These awards are not enough to say thank you for what he did.”