John Grindrod: One proud aunt, community

First Posted: 2/9/2015

Certainly one of the best things about writing for you each Wednesday is when I actually have one of my readers do most of the heavy lifting. That’s one of the reasons why my email appears at the bottom of each column, so you out there can contact me, not only with your reactions but also to provide column ideas.

And, that’s where Deb Dailey comes into the mix. Deb emailed me several weeks ago about her oldest nephew, Patrick Wilson, who retired last October from the Air Force after 28 1/2 years of service at the highest rank an enlisted man can achieve. Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Wilson indeed is elite. According to his aunt, only one of every 5,000 who enlist in the Air Force will ever achieve that rank.

Pat is a 1986 Lima Senior graduate and, according to Aunt Deb, never knew a stranger. Immune to cliques, he made time for everyone and combined that congeniality with a high degree of industriousness and wit. Throw in a bit of musical acumen (apparently the chief master sergeant plays a mean set of drums), and you’ve got the kind of product of Lima schools that all who had a hand in his education can be proud.

Wilson has been deployed several times over the years to protect our country, leaving the comforts of a home that includes a loving wife, Bonnie, and children, Clara and Owen.

Deb, as the mother of a son who is currently in the Air Force, knows full well the sacrifices of those men and women who serve and just wanted me to know about Pat. She also sent me the program from his retirement ceremony. As I ran down Patrick Wilson’s resume, one separated into headings for education, promotions, decorations and other achievements, I saw the reason why she felt the need to crow a bit.

As for promotions, when you start as airman basic, as Wilson did in 1986, I noticed that it took nine promotions to reach the rank of chief master sergeant, which he did in 2010.

The former Spartan earned 12 decorations, including the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Service Medal and the NATO Medal.

Listed among his other achievements were no less than seven that ended with the words “of the Year,” as in the final one listed, “HQ USAFE Theatre Air Control System Operations SNCO of the Year.” While I don’t know what all of the abbreviations mean, I certainly know if you are named the best in a category for an entire year seven different times, you are indeed sitting at the head of the class.

Under Wilson’s job description, his final assignment read just as well as the rest of his resume:

“Chief Master Sergeant Patrick F. Wilson is the 552nd Air Central Group Superintendent, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. In this position, CMSgt. Wilson advises the commander in issues for over 1,400 airmen at six local and geographically separated units. He provides operations, maintenance, logistics and training support to three combat coded Air Control Squadrons, one Field Training Unit, one Air Control and Networking Squadron, effectively ensuring C2 Battle Management Operations to combat commanders worldwide.”

And so, on Oct. 17, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, it was one proud family who looked at one of our military’s finest and, no doubt, in their minds traced his journey growing up in Lima. The former Spartan no doubt felt something far more emotional.

Recalling the recent flap over the renaming of the stadium and the administration’s insistence that the name Spartan Stadium will instill Spartan pride, I had to wonder if you’re really looking for what constitutes school pride, perhaps it’s less about renaming a treasured city landmark as a means to contrive it and more about finding out about the considerable accomplishments of those who once called themselves Spartans, men like Chief Master Sgt. Patrick F. Wilson, who found a way to become that just one in 5,000.

Now that’s some Spartan pride in which we all can share!