(Photo courtesy of Maria Grusauskas - Santa Cruz Patch)
Michael Tomasi was a Vietnam Veteran who served in the United States Army. He regularly attended Santa Cruz City Council meetings and could be found frequently sitting on the steps in front of the Santa Cruz Police Department. When police department employees drove past the front of police headquarters, it was not uncommon for Mike to stand at attention and give a salute of respect. Many from the police department returned the salute, showing their respect for Mike. The Santa Cruz Police Department and its employees considered Mike a friend, as did others at City Hall. Mike was hospitalized in early December after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. On Monday January 16th, Mike passed away at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto after a courageous, six-week battle for his life. Mike was 63 years old.
Mike was known for his often-colorful speeches that he gave regularly during public comment and oral communications at Santa Cruz City Council meetings. Mike both complimented and criticized when he spoke before Council, often in the same sentence. He began nearly every speech with his familiar introduction of himself, “I’m Mike Tomasi, A-Battery, 6th Battalion, 14th Artillery, a walkin’ talkin’ miracle from Vietnam, the greatest forward observer in the history of the United States and a real live hero. I hold my hand up for freedom. Within this freedom, the Constitution of the United States and all twenty-seven of it’s amendments. And if we don’t stand up for our rights, we will fall never to get up again. I close my fist for compassion, understanding and evaluating what’s happening around me. And last but not least, I come to you with no bombs and no guns. The only thing I come to you with is the truth and all the love I can throw at you.”
Mike had the good fortune of receiving visits by several Santa Cruz City employees during his hospital stay, including Chief Kevin Vogel, Deputy Chief Rick Martinez, Principal Management Analyst Zach Friend, Sgt. Jack McPhillips, Councilmember Lynn Robinson, Administrative Assistant to the City Manager Suzanne Haberman and Joe Hall from Economic Development and Redevelopment. The police department would like to extend a sincere thank you to Lynn Robinson and Suzanne Haberman for the unwavering friendship and support they provided to Mike.
Mike brought a unique personality and character to our community that we will never forget. He was buried at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella on Friday January 20th. Thanks to Lynn Robinson and community member Michael Bethke, Mike was buried with his beloved “Vietnam Veteran” hat that he was seen wearing regularly. Lynn Robinson and Michael Bethke delivered Mike’s hat to the funeral home this past Thursday.