Born in 1942, Wakefield native Rick Wilson earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, two Single Mission Air Medals, a Navy Commendation Medal and 46 mission Air Medals in Vietnam. He flew more than 900 missions in his 13 months of flying in-country, consisting primarily of recon insertions/extractions as well as medevac. He was 2nd Marine Airwing Aviator of the Year in 1969. After his combat tour he served as an instructor and Public Affairs Officer for MCAS New River. His Marine Corps career was cut short by the death of his first wife at age 28. He had three children (ages 4, 3 and 1), so it was impossible for him to continue on active duty.
After his wife’s death he returned to RI and got involved with the family newspaper business–making good use of the bachelors and masters degrees in English he earned at the University of Wisconsin. He eventually became publisher of Southern RI Newspapers, and launched the Chariho Times, South County Independent, North East Independent and South County Living Magazine. He subsequently remarried and now has 5 children and 7 grandchildren.
His love of flying came from his mother, Susan Northup Wilson, who was one of the first women in Rhode Island to hold a pilot’s license. His father grew up in Newport and joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor, spending WWII in the South Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier Saratoga. Rick’s aviation career is limited now to flying with friends but he holds a commercial license, instrument license as well as a multi-engine and jet rating. Rick, who attended South Kingstown High School and Portsmouth Priory, still lives in Wakefield.
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The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”
- James & Ezra Allen
Barrington natives James Allen (1824-1897) and his younger brother Ezra Allen (1840 – 1902) distinguished themselves through a lifelong commitment to aeronautics in the 19th century.
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Captain William McBrayer Calhoun, USN, Ret. (1948-2015) was a long-time RI resident who graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1967. Capt. Calhoun was a LTJG with the highly decorated Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3), nicknamed the “Seawolves”, an all-volunteer squadron formed in support of Naval Special Warfare operations and Mobile Riverine Forces.
- MG Philip Conley, USAF (Ret)
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