Whitesburg KY

Air Force One’s crew chief

I received a letter a couple of days ago from Sergeant Wingo’s daughter in Summerville, Mass., telling me her whole family knew of me.

She was going through some military papers of her late father. Senior Master Sergeant Wingo was not happy talking orders from me when I was assigned the flight leader of the President’s Air Force One’s crew when he was the crew chief.

Sergeant Wingo outranked me, but when the commandant of the NCO Academy found out Air Force One’s crew had not marched in formation since basic training years ago, and having served with me on my first overseas tour, knowing I could march the men, I was his pick.

My flight of 25 men was one of five flights for a fiveweek course at McCoy Air Base, Orlando, Fla.

Sergeant Wingo was smart enough to know he needed me. He began to like me when I took them on extra marching on the parade field and we looked pretty good.

When we won the award for marching, he had tears in his eyes. As I was the flight leader, the award would go back to my base with me. After our graduation and we were saying goodbyes in the parking lot, I walked over to Sergeant Wingo and handed him the award and told him to keep it. I never saw anyone so happy.

Before he retired, when the President flew into the base I was assigned to, he would look me up and take me to the NCO Club for a meal.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)

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