To honor the veterans in the NO-DES family, we've dedicated the space below to their service. Please read on to learn more about their dedication to our country.
From Chris Wilkinson, President:
I joined the US Army back in 1982 under the Warrant Officer Flight Training Program (WOC). I went to Fort Dix for eight weeks of basic training and then moved on to Fort Rucker, AL (Mother Rucker) for Helicopter Flight School. It was the toughest year of my life. I was assigned to fly UH-1H helicopters and got stationed in the Republic of Panama (Panama Canal Zone) for the next four years. These were the best four years of my life – every day was an adventure.
I flew Panamanian politician and military de facto ruler of Panama, General Manuel Noriega, on several flights! I got to fly lots of drug interdiction missions in several South American countries, along with lots of Navy ship landing missions. I was stationed (TDY) on the USS IOWA for a couple of weeks (frickin amazing). My very first flight as an aircraft commander was down in Costa Rica, and my very first passenger was the president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias. "If he'ed had known"?
In 1989, during Operation Just Cause, I flew the freedom bird back to Fort Rucker, AL to attend the AH-64 (Apache) transition course. From there I was assigned to an elite gun unit (4-229 AAHR) at Fort Hood, TX, and then went on to Germany with the same unit.
During my Germany tour I got to fly in several European countries. I then went on to Saudi Arabia (Desert Storm). It wasn't a good place to be (lot's of stories). Then I went back to Germany, then back to Fort Rucker, AL where I received promotion to CW3 and then was ETS'd (kicked out) within a week (at least honorably).
After working for California Water Service Company for 11 years, I then flew as an instructor at the CMS (at the WAATS) Silverbell AHP for the Arizona NG for approximately six years. This is where I developed the first NO-DES prototype (at the Evergreen Airpark, Marana, AZ)!
During Desert Storm I killed two tanks with one hellfire missile (recorded) and received recognitions from the Army and McDonnell Douglas! That's all I got for my 15 minutes of fame.
Pictured Top Left Second In: 1984. I'm on the right with my brother Johnnie (CW2) on the left. I was a WO1 right out of flight school!
Pictured Bottom Left: This is my Father Johnnie Ace Wilkinson, retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the United States Marine Corp. He passed away last year at 84. He did one tour in Korea and three tours in Vietnam. His military occupational specialty (MOS) was Marine Aviation. Note: He got to fly with John Glenn on several occasions (after Glenn was an astronaut). I have that M1 Garand rifle Dad's inspecting, as a drill instructor (sergeant) at MCRD Camp Pendleton, CA (early 60's)...
Pictured Right: My brother Johnnie Ace Wilkinson III (on the right). Johnnie was a maintenance test pilot. I was just an AC pilot. Both of us were Chief Warrant Officer 2's at the time of this pic, taken at Fort Hood approximately 1988. We were both in the same unit – 4th of the 229th AAHR, 11 AVB. I was in C company and Johnnie was in A company. This was a rare event to have two brothers in the same unit (especially pilots)! From here we deployed to Illesheim AAF (Army Air Field), Germany. "And some gave ALL." CW3 Johnnie Ace Wilkinson (my brother) was killed in an Apache accident during Desert Shield. He was only 32! "NEVER FORGET."
From Jay Wright:
Here are a few pictures of me in the early days of the military. My awards are as follows:
I have two Good Conduct awards
I have two National Defense Service Medals
I have two Meritorious Unit Commendations
I have a medal for Expert in .45 cal pistol
I have two Letters of Appreciation
My rank in the Navy was Petty Officer 2nd Class (E-5)
My title was Aviation Ground Support Technician (ASM). I was basically a mechanic for all of the equipment that dealt with starting or moving aircraft, and I specialized in turbine engines. Most of the planes in the Navy at that time had no way of starting on their own, so we had to hook up small jet engines to the aircraft that blew a tremendous amount of air into them in order to get them to turn over and eventually start. Those units were called “Huffers.”
I can remember when I was stationed in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, we had a Marine Corps Sergeant that used to go out when it was cold and start the Huffer up. He’d turn on the output air – it came out hot so that he could warm up a bit and lean his back into it. I'd sneak up and shut the air off and he'd fall on the ground due to no air holding him up. Good times!
You'll see a picture in here of me and some other guys standing in front of the Blue Angels plane that was put on a stand in front of the base. We painted that plane. I was the one in the middle. I was stationed at Naval Air Station New Orleans at the time.
In the A school picture I'm in the back row, 2nd from the right. I spent almost 10 years in the Navy. Some of the best times of my life. I wish I had stayed for 20.