1st Sergeant Gerald May: Age: 75
1st Sergeant Gerald May served 24 years in the U.S. Army. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) included: Air Traffic Control, Supply Specialist, Linguist, Interrogator, Personnel Specialist, Fighter, Door Gunner, and Rifleman. He received the following medals, awards, and decorations: Bronze Star Medal w/Combat Distinguished Device “V”, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ Combat Distinguished Device “V”, Army Commendation Medal (4th Award), Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation (2nd Award), Army Good Conduct Medal (7th Award), National Defense Medal (2nd Award), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon w/Numeral 3, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd Award), RVN Campaign Medal (5th Award), Master Aviation Badge, Expert Marksman Badge and Driver/Mechanic Badge w/ Driver Bar.
1st Sgt May was born at Flint, MI, March 29, 1948 to his parents, Edison and Marge May, and he was reared all over the US and Europe because his father was a career soldier in the U. S. Army. Although he dropped out of high school, he earned a GED in 1966. He received an Associate of Applied Sciences Degree magna cum laude from Northern Virginia Community College in 1974, and he used the G.I. Bill to obtain several pilot certifications 1978-1980. In January 1966, he volunteered and enlisted three times in the U. S. Army first at Kalamazoo, MI, then at Cleveland, TN, and lastly at Fredericksburg, VA, all in the U.S. Army. For his three enlistments, he completed Boot Camps at Ft. Knox, KY, in January 1966, at Ft. Knox, KY, in 1975 and in June 1983 at Ft. Bliss, TX.
1st Sergeant May furthered his education by receiving training at military air traffic control schools and used that training by serving at military bases in the U.S.A. and abroad. 1st Sgt May attended the Air Traffic Control School at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) from April-October 1966. This was followed by deployment to the 284th Avn Company as a flight operations specialist in the Flight Operations Center in Seoul, Korea from November 1966-Novmber 1967. Next, he served in the Viet Nam War with the 11th Avn Group 1st Calvary Division as a tower, radar, and forward controller, with additional duties as door gunner and crash truck driver from November 1967-December 1968. During this combat tour, he participated in five major campaigns including the Kae San Valley, Ashua Valley, and the Tet offensive of 1968. When he reenlisted in September 1972, he was sent to Davison Army Air Field (AAF), VA, and served as a tower and radar controller until June 1975 when he again left the service. He enlisted again in 1983 and attended the Military Intelligence School at Ft. Huachuca, AZ, to become an interrogator from August 1983-December 1983. He attended the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, CA from January 1984-August 1984 to study the Korean language which he used during his second deployment to Korea. He then served at the Military Entrance Processing Center in San Diego, CA, as a Personnel Sgt, Supply Sgt, and Testing Officer from September 1984-1989. His second deployment to Seoul, Korea, was with the 1/53rd AVN Bn as air traffic control section Platoon Sgt from November 1989-December 1990. He served as an air traffic control instructor and simulator operator with B Company 1-58th Avn Bn at Ft. Rucker, AL from January 1991-September 1994. His next deployment was to the 2-58th Avn Bn at Ansbach, Germany, as the platoon sergeant of a tactical air traffic control unit from October 1994-March 1996. His final assignment was service as the 1st Sgt of C Company 1/11th Avn Bn at Ft. Rucker, AL, where he retired from military service December 31, 2000.
After retirement from military service, 1st Sgt May worked as sales and management trainee with Sears for two years, as air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration for seven years, as surveyor with the TN Department of Transportation for one year, as air traffic controller with the Department of the Army for 13 years, as owner and operator of Windwalker Aviation Inc. for 12 years and as flight instructor for 12 years. He retired from all employment in March 2015.
1st SGT May and his wife, Susan, have been married for 25 years and live in a comfortable retirement at Enterprise, AL. He has one son and two grandchildren from a previous marriage. Since his final retirement, he has remained active in his community because he feels that it is important to give back. He serves with the Civil Air Patrol in Dothan, AL, as the commander of the Dothan Composite Squadron. Its charter is three pronged including Emergency Services, Aerospace Education and Cadet Programs. In addition, he serves as a volunteer driver for Chapter 9 of the Disabled American Veterans at Enterprise, AL, having already driven over 20,000 miles with more than 1000 hours of service. He also serves as a Community Emergency Response Team member and trainer.
1st Sergeant May describes what his service in the U.S. military means to him saying, “I am very proud to have been in service to my country, but of late, I have been wondering if it was all for naught. The current state of our democracy is becoming more and more fragile. We as a country need to get back to our democratic roots and start working together as a nation. Our elected officials need to get back to supporting their constituents, to stop pandering to the lobbyists and special interest groups and to stop demonizing asylum seekers. They are only trying to get back for what our forefathers and I fought, freedom from oppression.”