Last weekend I had the honor of inducting my father into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame during the 36th DUSTOFF Reunion in Nashville, TN. His plaque will be posted at the Army Medical Museum at Fort Sam Houston, TX. Below is my induction speech.
Good afternoon distinguished guests, executive committee, members of the DUSTOFF Association, and families and friends of DUSTOFF. Those of you that don’t know me, my name is Chris Wingate. I’m the commander of C Co, 2nd Battalion 227th Aviation Regiment out of Fort Hood, TX and the son of the man we are here to honor today, LTC James C. Wingate.
It is my honor to induct LTC Wingate into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame by reading the citation mounted on his plaque at the AMEDD Museum at Fort Sam Houston. LTC James C. Wingate’s distinguished career with DUSTOFF spanned 47 years in the Army and Industry. He was a humble, compassionate man, who focused on the needs of the wounded. In Vietnam, he flew 1100 combat flight hours on 805 missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 34 Air Medals—three for Valor. A Master Army Aviator with more than 3000 hours, Jim distinguished himself in command and staff positions by exceptional dedication and outstanding performance of duty throughout his career. He was a catalyst in transforming DUSTOFF for over 28 years and counting. Jim was the constant force that kept DUSTOFF modernization moving forward. He developed and executed the strategy that brought together leaders of the three Army components, Congress, and the Industry Q-Team to obtain support and funding for the advanced medical capability aboard UH60 aircraft. His persistence was instrumental in overcoming obstacles to modernize the UH60 fleet, ultimately leading to the production of four UH-60Q, 31 HH-60L, and 570 HH-60M.
Webster’s dictionary defines uncommon as “something not ordinarily encountered, not often found, seen, or experienced. To be uncommon is to be remarkable or exceptional and not ordinary.” Today, I have the honor of recognizing an uncommon man with an uncommon list of contributions. It’s uncommon to induct your own father into a hall of fame that recognizes uncommon heroes in an uncommon city during an uncommon DUSTOFF reunion. The very nature of DUSTOFF is uncommon. Through our mission, flight medics, crew chiefs, and pilots, people in this very room, have achieved uncommon results in uncommon locations for over forty-five years. It’s just what we do. And LTC Wingate’s career and contributions have been uncommon since the day he came in the military on August 19th, 1968. His career in the military was marked by 3100 total hours as a standardization pilot, instructor pilot and pilot in command, 1100 of which were in Vietnam where he earned a distinguished flying cross for extreme heroism under intense enemy fire and 34 air medals, 3 of which were for Valor under fire. He deployed to Iraq for Desert Shield and Storm as the Commander of the 85th Medical Battalion out of Fort Meade, Maryland where he served with many people in this very room and provided area medical support for the Soldiers of the 18th Airborne Corps. God sent him to uncommon places where he achieved uncommon results and met uncommon people and would forge friendships that would span the test of time as evidenced by their support here today.
Today we recognize a man who is marked as much if not more by the content of his character than his many accomplishments listed on his hall of fame citation. His character reflects an inner life committed to honor and uncompromising integrity. We recognize a man who cares more about being the husband he is to my mom for 46 years and counting than he does about receiving recognition at a museum. We acknowledge a man who values the father he was and is to my two sisters and I and the grandfather he is to my nephews…accomplishing everything you’ve heard about today while raising three God-fearing, God-loving, God-serving children who are currently raising God-fearing, God-loving, God-serving children. We acknowledge a man for the integrity in his dealings, His drive to never quit, his inability to compromise no matter what the cost. His uncanny ability to fuse different people from different walks of life and unify them for one highly uncommon cause through uncommon strategies while still achieving uncommon results all while being a Godly leader to our family. You see, our individual pride is all about ourselves, but LTC Wingate’s confidence in his faith is the realization that God gave him the ability to fill an uncommon role as an uncommon man, while using uncommon strategies and achieving highly uncommon results. That’s just how God works.
His accomplishments led to a paradigm shift in MEDEVAC operations from the UH-60A to the most advanced aeromedical evacuation platform in the world: the HH-60M Blackhawk. For his work with the UH-60Q, the bridge platform that led to the H-60L and H-60M, Major General Richard D. Cameron awarded LTC Wingate the Legion of Merit for his contributions in developing the strategy to modernize ground and air evacuation platforms to support the Army of the 21st Century. Those strategies and contributions are still yielding uncommon results on every continent our Army is deployed.
LTC Wingate transformed the face of modern day Army aeromedical evacuation operations through his uncommon drive and commitment to the mission. His vision enabled him to sort through the clutter and find the best strategy for the way ahead for aeromedical evacuation. This skill cannot be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking and perspective that allowed him to see patterns where others saw complexity. Mindful of these patterns, he saw around corners and accurately evaluated potential obstacles. He discarded the paths that led straight to resistance and dead ends and persisted, effectively unifying key personnel from three Army Components, Industry, and Congress throughout his career armed with highly uncommon strategies and achieving highly uncommon results.
The medical suite in the back of the HH-60L, the very aircraft I flew my first two tours in Iraq, the medical suite in the HH-60M currently in Afghanistan, the same aircraft you saw with the fine Soldiers of Eagle DUSTOFF at Fort Campbell on Thursday are just a few of the contributions. The vision and efforts of LTC Wingate and the teams he brought together through 47 years of service and counting gave the finest flight medics and nurses in the world the most advanced medical interior available where they have treated thousands upon thousands of US and coalition soldiers and civilians effectively contributing to the highest casualty survival rate of any war in our history. In a world where beating your chest is glorified and the louder the individual the greater the accolades received, the contributions and quiet strength of the man we honor today will echo long after we are gone. But that should come as no surprise to this room full of uncommon heroes. Because God always uses uncommon people, to do uncommon things, with uncommon strategies, in uncommon places, where they achieve highly uncommon results.
And today, it is my honor to induct my uncommon hero, LTC James C. Wingate into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame on 28 March 2015.
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