Thank you, Coach Friedli.

It is a challenge to accurately capture a tribute fitting for someone who meant so much to so many people. A legend in high school football, Coach Vern Friedli held the title of the winningest coach in Arizona high school football until last season. But Coach Friedli’s impact extends far beyond the 331 wins, including 288 in 36 years of coaching at Amphitheater High School.

Yesterday, a flood of memories came back as I attended his “Celebration of Life” at the Amphi basketball arena in Tucson, Arizona. Just a glimpse of his impact was present in the crowd of more than 500 former players, friends, family members, and administrators. I remembered the first time I met Coach Friedli in the summer of 1997. Walking into the football weight room under the stadium, I took a left and saw Coach sitting at his desk. I walked up to him and introduced myself as he stood to shake hands. He was all of 5’8” 165-ish lbs, fit, confident, with kind eyes. He was smaller than I expected but you wouldn’t know it when you talked to him. His fiery personality and impact would soon extend further and higher than his physical stature ever could.

During that first meeting, we sat down and discussed why I transferred to Amphi and wanted to play for the Panthers. Having attended Palo Verde Christian (PVC) for two years, I felt led to take the leap to public school to reach the lost. I wanted my life and my words to lead people to Christ. I also wanted to play football for the best. Coach Friedli and his Panthers were the best in Tucson and everyone knew it. Surprised yet un-phased by my words, Coach welcomed me to the team and gave me a blank 3×5 card. He told me to take it home and write down my personal and team goals for the upcoming year and bring it back to him. Coach Friedli ensured goals were a foundation of the culture of his program and his players.

Coach Friedli 97

I would go on to play and start for Coach Friedli for two seasons. As huge underdogs my first year, we’d fall just short of the 1997 5A Arizona State Championship to Mesa Mountain View 28-24. Their team was led by future NFL hall of fame tight end, Todd Heap. Our scrappy, hard-nosed, wishbone-running team had the game locked up until an erroneous game-changing fumble by Mountain View, inaccurately ruled down after the whistle, and a later failed 4th and 1. We gave relentless effort and fought to the end-as his teams always did.

He’s the coach that got through to me-as only a coach could. One day I wanted to be rebellious and dye my hair with hydrogen peroxide, without my parent’s approval. I’ll never forget showing up for football practice that day with an orange-ish/yellow hair color and hearing Coach yell before I even set foot on the field to stretch, “Wingate, it looks like a horse pissed on your head.” He was right. He never hesitated to be direct, yet honest in his approach to get through to his players.

Towards the end of my senior year, after my parents, coach was the first to encourage and support my goal of attending Texas Christian University (TCU) as a walk-on for the Horned Frogs.  As a contributor to my high school team, hardly a star, this seemed like a lofty goal. Yet, Coach Friedli did not hesitate to extend his support. I watched the Frogs upset the Carson Palmer-led Trojans in the Sun Bowl, and felt like the Frogs had grit, ran the ball and fought just like a Friedli team.  Vern would coach me in the off-season prior to my departure to Fort Worth in preparation for my redshirt freshman season at TCU. When I left and told him thank you, he simply said, “Make your mother proud.”

That day in the weight room he told me about a coach he ran into from PVC at the airport shortly after I’d transferred to Amphi. That coach told him, “You know, Wingate will never play for you. He’s not that good.” Coach laughed with pride and a tone of confidence as only Coach could as he said, “Well, you showed him!” Again, Coach saw something in me I didn’t even see in myself. He believed in all of us, each one of his players.

He believed in hard work. He valued discipline. He modeled integrity. He demanded relentless effort. He cared for his players and wanted them to “make their mother proud.” He fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. He valued the team more than the individual yet somehow let each individual know he cared.  He gave his all to develop young men of character. He called out the best in each of us.

Coach taught me to never be satisfied with the status quo. He taught me to fight until I hit a brick wall then go around it, over it or through it. Coach taught me to scrap and fight for what’s right, that’s what his teams did. Ask Todd Heap and the 1997 Mesa Mountain View Toros. I’m sure they remember.

Leaving Coach Friedli’s Celebration of Life yesterday reminded me of the value of leaving a legacy. It reminded me of the fragility of life and making the most of our time here on earth and the greatest impact possible. Coach’s legacy extended far beyond the win column; his legacy was in that basketball arena on the Amphi campus. His legacy is leaders in business, the military, teaching, family, and life. Just as we held up four fingers signifying the last quarter of the game and the importance of finishing strong, his legacy is leaders that do not know how to quit.

At the end of the ceremony, his youngest son, Ted, called all the former players to the arena floor. Hundreds took a knee to say one final prayer with a video recording of Coach praying in the background as he did with us before every football game. That day he planted a seed in the hearts of all the men and women present one more time:

Let’s pray. Pray in your own way. Pray not to win, God willing we shall. We pray that you give a great effort tonight. Thank God He allowed you to play football for Amphi High School. And we thank God that he allowed us to coach you. Good luck, God bless, and we love you. Amen.

Pray

That prayer had much more depth than I ever realized as a high school kid. That prayer spoke to the importance of unity of purpose and discipline. It spoke to his vision. It spoke to the value of diversity. It spoke to sportsmanship. It spoke to discipline. It spoke to relentless effort.

It spoke to gratitude for opportunities and the value of seasons. It spoke to Coach’s humble heart and his stewardship of the awesome responsibility of shaping young men in unity, purpose, discipline, vision, diversity, sportsmanship, effort, and respect to the Creator.

Coach called out the leader in me. I take his lessons with me today as a professional Soldier. Coach is greatly responsible for my drive and relentless effort as an Army Officer. After my third deployment, this time to Afghanistan, I visited Coach and his wife, Sharon, to present them with a certificate of appreciation and a flag we flew on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom as a thank you for his tremendous impact on my life.Coach Friedli Flag

A flag cannot adequately thank a man whose impact goes on long after he is gone. Words cannot adequately express gratitude to a man who put just as much, if not more, effort into building men than he did earning the 331 Wins in his coaching career. You don’t reach that mark without reaching hearts. 

Yesterday’s celebration reminded me of how grateful I was to know and play for a legend. It reminded me how honored I was to see the values instilled by my parents magnified and reinforced as only Coach could. Yesterday, I was reminded of the value of a season and the impact of one man and his teammate, Sharon. Spouses in the coaching profession and military do not necessarily get enough credit for their sacrifice in the shadows.

In Sharon’s case, she was out front standing beside him, supporting and investing in those young student-athletes just the same. However, the sacrifice she made to support and lift him up throughout his stellar career behind the scenes can hardly be quantified by anyone other than his family. The pictures playing on the screen at yesterday’s celebration of life showed Coach valued and invested in his family just as much if not more than his players. The love, respect, and admiration by his children in their speeches about their father were clearly evident.

Thank you, Coach. Thank you for your relentless effort and commitment to the players. Thank you for building men. Thank you for instilling the importance of fight no matter what your size. You may have been one of the shortest men in the room, but you were a giant. Although you are no longer here with us, your investment will continue yielding returns for years to come.

If you missed his Celebration of Life, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/kvoa4/videos/1642400062459331/?hc_ref=ARSwWDssZcW_BEwvrquFy6BzMkBk3JdKoubcdVdJQg9yB25qm5EkuLBEsimKZ6VWhuY&pnref=story

To anyone reading this, what memories do you have of Coach that others might not know or might not remember? Leave a comment below as we honor his legacy.Coach Friedli

-MCW/@mcwingate

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Be present. 

Bruce Arians, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals was recently quoted as saying to Alex Marvez and Geoff Schwartz on the SiriusXM Blitz, “For our coaches, I tell them, if you miss a recital or a football game or a basketball game, I’ll fire you. You can always come back and work. Those kids are not going to be there forever. They’re going to grow up and be gone.”

As a former intercollegiate athlete at TCU and current Army Officer, I’ve always seen the parallels between the work ethic of coaching and the military. As a relatively new father with an 18 month old daughter and son due in September, my responsibility as a husband and father has never been more evident and it is the greatest responsibility with which I’ve been entrusted. This responsibility is something some fathers in both professions miss. 

There are seasons and events we never want to miss. In the Army, in coaching sports, sometimes mission or the season dictates otherwise. That means we have a responsibility to make the most of the time we do have with our family while being present for what we can be present for, controlling what we can control with an adequate work-life balance. Quality time does not necessarily mean quantity time. 

Adequate work-life balance is essential to a healthy home and our role as husbands and fathers. In the Army, when our nation calls, we answer. However, above all else our God-given job is to lead our family first whether at home or abroad. If we do it right, the family will be there long after the Army is gone or the coaching career ends. 

Readiness is the #1 priority of our Army’s senior leaders. Too often we give lip-service to the concept of supporting the family while not truly walking it out. I truly believe support from your significant other through those challenging seasons we can’t control is essential to building readiness. If a Soldier knows they have the support of their spouse back home when deployed or at training, it helps foster a healthy culture where the Soldier knows they can focus on the mission we have been called to do. 

It is my responsibility to be present when home, to turn off my phone when able, and not check email when I could be playing with my daughter or talking to my wife about her day. Investing in my daughter and pursuing her heart is essential to her development and her perception of what a Godly man looks like. That image is also directly related to how well I pursue the heart of my wife.  That requires me to give her my undivided attention when I’m able. There are seasons it is not always possible in person. But when it is, fathers, leaders, coaches, we must be present. 

Farewell.

Change in Command_100Last week Danielle and I successfully completed 27 months of serving the Soldiers and Families of C/2-227 AVN REGT as their Commander. Passing the guidon to CPT(P) Dan Jones signaled the end to one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my military career.

Change in Command_91Dan Jones and his wife Rosemary are an amazing couple who will care for the Company Soldiers and Families and serve them faithfully. The Company is in excellent hands for the next chapter of its storied history. Below is my change of command speech. Thanks to all who attended, supported us from a distance, encouraged, and stood arm-in-arm with us through this awesome season!

______________________________________

COL Drennon, LTC Eberhardt, CSM Chapman, CSM Nutter, distinguished guests, friends, and the troopers and families of C Co, thank you for being here.

Although I know COL Baker could not be here, I would be remiss if I did not thank him and a few other leaders. Change in Command_93COL Baker, COL Thompson, COL Waters, LTC Eberhardt, LTC Steele, & LTC Asborno, I was honored to have the opportunity to serve under your leadership. Thank you for your coaching and mentorship throughout various seasons of this command.

I stood in this hangar 27 months ago and cast the vision for this company with great hope and expectation, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality

Change in Command_123 of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. ”

We set out to be RELENTLESS, to have an attitude or posture that is resolute, persistent, and unyielding in all we do. We set out to have a solid work-life balance while relentlessly pursuing the hearts of our families and
pursuing excellence in discipline, training, and unity at work. Witchdoctor DUSTOFF….Thank you for your relentless effort.

This Company has collectively completed 10 Combat Training Center rotations, deployed to EUCOM in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, nearly deployed to AFRICOM in the fight against Ebola, supported DCRF and DSCA, countless Air Mission Requests to almost every ground unit on post and many on other installations, divested 13 x UH-60A+ and acquired 15 x HH-60M.Change in Command_134 We conducted real world MEDEVAC support in Dahlonega, GA, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, and Poland and training in many other countries, and most recently at Fort Hood, TX in support of the search and rescue team…Charlie Company… You did all that… to Save a Life. You make the mission happen every day and you do it for our Army’s most important resource: the Soldier.

Thank you for your professionalism, devotion to serve, and the sacrifice you and your families make on a daily basis for the good of our unit, Army and country. As you progress in the military or move on to other endeavors, I encourage you to measure success by the lives you invest in and the legacy you leave behind in each chapter of your career. Businessman Henry Gruland said, “Being a leader is more than just wanting to lead. Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in people and a responsibility to believe the best, not the worst by truly caring for others.”

Change in Command_711SG Ocon, thank you for being relentless and challenging me for the greater good. Your true care for the Soldier is contagious. You performed as my 1SG long before you ever had the title and I thank you for the support, advice, trust, and commitment. I cannot wait to see what’s next for you and Maria and I know you will give CPT(P) Jones the same relentless commitment you gave me.

If there is anyone that knows how to believe the best, it is my bride, Danielle. She didn’t know what to expect as the FRG leader, a newlywed, and a commander’s wife all in the first year of marriage. Not having much exposure to the military prior to our marriage, she went in with eyes wide open… COL Thompson was talking to her after the ceremony and Danielle and I had yet to go over the Army rank structure so I wanted to ensure she knew this was my boss’s boss. She later told me she was glad I came over when I did, because was actually about to ask him, “So how long have you been in Charlie Company?” ……You know, although she may not have known at the time that the Soldier she was talking to was actually my boss’s boss, rest assured…… she knows now.

More importantly, what she did know was how to love people. From day one she cared for every family member and Soldier deeply.Change in Command_126 She cared for the spouses, the troopers,
and their children relentlessly. She was instrumental to our success. While we were deployed to EUCOM, she managed to balance a full time job and full time ministry at our church in Georgetown, while being pregnant, then raising a beautiful daughter, and continuing to invest in the families of this company. Danielle, thank you for your support and for everything you did. Thank you for being a sounding board and a teammate. There is no one else whom I would’ve wanted to walk this journey…there is no one else with whom I could’ve walked this journey. Thank you for being relentless to lead and serving well. Our success is largely due to you and I’m so grateful to call you my teammate and best friend.

Thanks to Beth, Yolanda, Bob, June and the rest of our Celebration Church family for walking beside her through quite possibly the toughest season she’s ever walked.

Dan and Rosemary, Danielle and I could not be more proud to hand off the company to Change in Command_132you. In the past month and a half we’ve spent time getting to know you both while building a friendship and we know your heart is for the Soldier. We cannot wait to see the next chapter for this company under your leadership. Not to mention this Company now has the DUSTOFF Aviator of the Year in CPT Jones AND the DUSTOFF two-time flight medic of the year in 1SG Ocon. WHAT?! If that isn’t the dynamic duo I don’t know what is! All kidding aside, Dan your humble nature and passion is palpable and I wish you the best in your command. Change in Command_106

 

 

Mom and Dad, thank you for making time to be here… I’m grateful to be your son and Dad…thanks

for being a Godly father figure to model at home and at work. Thanks for being an example worth following.

 

Thanks to the ACB, my fellow iron majors past and present, fellow commanders, friends,

Change in Command_155and the Lobo and Brigade Staff. Your support and effort made it this successful command possible. To my brother from another mother…MAJ Conrad…thanks for being a sounding board and fighting the good fight…Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” and through the past 27 months, you’ve done just that for me. For that I am forever grateful for your friendship.

Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers. “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

My faith in God was the compass that provided the endurance, drive, and commitment to serve and finish well. But know this…the greatest battles won during command were not won during deployment, open door sessions, command and staff or training meetings. Rather, they were won in prayer for you, your families, and for the battalion and brigade leadership.

With that, I close today with great confidence and pride saying, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. We ARE Relentless, Unified, Trained, and Disciplined – a mentally tough and adaptive team of professionals devoted to serving Soldiers, Families, and the community. We will always safely complete the mission with relentless pursuit – Anywhere. Anytime.

This company, battalion, and brigade is one team I will never forget. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your Commander. To Save a Life! DUSTOFF! Lobos! Air Cav! Witchdoctor 6 signing out.

Change in Command_23

-MCW

@mcwingate

all photos courtesy of Christina Smith Photography http://www.christinasmithphoto.com

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

Leading with discernment

King Solomon’s greatest strength as a leader was wisdom and knowledge. When given the opportunity to ask for anything from God, King Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge (verse 9). God was so pleased with his request (verse 10), God granted him much more, including discernment.

In 1 Kings 3: 16 – 28, we see King Solomon’s wisdom in action. Verse 28 shows us, “And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice (1 Kings 3:28, ESV).” Through this passage we also see King Solomon leading with discernment.

Google defines discernment as “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.” Discernment is a quality that sets some leaders apart from others. Discernment provides leaders with insight to see beyond the visible to the invisible. Discernment provides leaders with the ability to see beyond the natural to the supernatural.

No matter what field you serve in, who wouldn’t want to lead with discernment? So how do we continually improve our discernment as leaders?

In his “Equip” daily devotional, John Maxwell recommends:

  • Learn to hear God’s voice – Get quiet and read Scripture. Reflect on the mind of God.
  • Build problem-solving skills – If you can see root issues of problems, you can solve those difficulties.
  • Analyze your successes – What worked? Can you identify the heart of the matter?
  • Evaluate your options – Discernment involves both your gut and your head.
  • Expand your opportunities – Get more experience to help you deepen your wisdom.
  • Explore what others think – Choose leaders you admire and study how they think.
  • Listen to your gut – Most people are afraid to listen to their God-given intuition.

Discernment allows leaders to go deeper than surface knowledge to a profound perception of what is occurring on the outside or inside of a person. It enables us to essentially see around corners, perplexing those who don’t understand and haven’t experienced this gift of the Spirit.

In a world of ambiguity and imperfection, discernment helps Christian leaders bridge the gap between what is seen to what is unseen to make the best decision possible for the good of the organization. One of our roles as Christian leaders is to lead our teams with discernment. Caring for the well-being of others under your leadership begins with discernment. Through discernment, our life, language, and actions help us truly know others while we strive to be a beacon of light forever pointing the lost to the Creator and simultaneously putting our teams in the best possible position to succeed.

-MCW

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2015 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.

 

Make ’em Thirsty

In his book 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, John Maxwell writes:

“Some sports teams seem to embrace an “everyone-for-himself” mind-set. Others weave the attitude of subordination and teamwork into the fabric of everything they do. For example, football teams such as Notre Dame and Penn State don’t put the names of the players on their jerseys. Lou Holtz, former coach of the Fighting Irish, once explained why. He said, “At Notre Dame, we believed the interlocking ND was all the identification you needed. Whenever anyone complained, I told them they were lucky we allowed numbers on the uniforms.  Given my druthers, I would have nothing more than initials indicating what positions the wearer played. If your priority is the team rather than yourself, what else do you need?”

Winning teams have players who put the good of the team ahead of themselves. They want to play in the area of strength, but they’re willing to do what it takes to take care of the team They are willing to sacrifice their role for the greater goal.”

In our company, we are doing this more and more every day.  Each individual brings a phenomenal depth of experience to our team.  The goal is to keep our leaders and Soldiers doing what it takes today and tomorrow for the good of Charlie Company, Lobo, and the Air Cav team.

To take it one step further, it is my goal to have my leaders encourage their Soldiers to do the same.  

When my amazing wife, Danielle and I were talking about leadership the other day, she told me something she learned while working at Crosspoint Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. “You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make them drink…you can make them thirsty though. I offered a slightly different military perspective yesterday in our leader huddle: “In the military, we can lead a horse to the water…we can even make it drink….the question and our charge as leaders is to make ’em thirsty…” In my first three months in command, I’ve found providing the “Why” is an essential component of making ’em thirsty. Why we do what we do is often more important than giving orders and demanding blind followers (in most cases). There is a time and place for the latter in our business. In most cases, with this generation, the more you provide the why, the better.

In most cases, the leaders in my company have never experienced the garrison environment and the unique differences or challenges when compared to preparation for a combat deployment. Supporting my higher headquarters’ intent/vision while moving forward with our collective vision is a must. Unity is a must. We serve in an awesome Army at an awesome post in an awesome corps, division, brigade, battalion, and company at an awesome time. There is nowhere else I would rather be than right here, right now. I’m thirsty, I’m parched, and with just over three months into my command, I have about 86 weeks, or 608 days, or 14,600 hours, or 876,000 minutes to make this team thirsty. Time is tickin’ and it takes more than me.

There are two ways to influence behavior in the military: You can demand it or you can inspire it. So today, I offered my team this question: What can we do today to accomplish our goals and make our team thirsty?

The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

© Copyright 2015 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.

Hall of Fame Induction Speech

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.

© Copyright 2015 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.

My first hand account of today’s terrorist attack in Kabul, 15 coalition wounded, 1 KIA.

Today’s insider attack west of Kabul marred the feelings of excitement of a day marking nearly two weeks before I redeploy back home after nearly 9 months away. As I sat in the Command Post (CP) and saw the developing reporting of wounded personnel in the RC-East MEDEVAC chat window steadily increasing from 1 to 4 then 11. My heart raced. This was quickly developing into a MASCAL (mass casualty) scenario. (A MASCAL incident is any incident in which emergency medical services are overwhelmed by the number and severity of casualties.)

As the situation developed and the casualties increased, the request came for 4 MEDEVAC aircraft to respond. I instantly felt a prompting in my spirit to send 2 more aircraft than requested, totaling 6 DUSTOFF aircraft. After they launched, reporting came in that the numbers had increased to as many as 19 wounded coalition personnel, far too many wounded to provide adequate medical care had we only sent 4 DUSTOFF aircraft. If for nothing else, if that moment, that decision, helped save even one life, remaining in Afghanistan longer than I expected was completely worth it.

It is extremely difficult to put into words the effects of moments like today. The fog of war was thick in a cloud of confusion. However, the peace that passes all understanding created decisively accurate clarity in an otherwise confusing hour and a half.

As the dust settles and the final reporting is in, fifteen coalition military personnel owe their lives and a debt of gratitude to hundreds of US forces. Mostly, thanks are due to the selfless emergency medical personnel at Craig Army Hospital and the DUSTOFF warriors that launched in their aircraft with very little information as well as the flight medics fought to save the lives of the wounded during today’s horrific terrorist act. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of the US service member, a Major General, which lost his life today while training the Afghans at the Afghan Non-Commissioned Officer Academy. Rest in peace, brother.

-MCW

@MCWingate / mcwingate@me.com