As we approach the United States of America (USA) 238th birthday celebration, we shall never forget July 4, 1776, the day the USA declared its independence from Britain. Since that historical moment, we celebrate Independence Day, “the 4th of July” with fireworks, parades, concerts, cookouts, reunions and etc. However, it is important that we never forget to remember and honor the military service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice so we can live in the land of the free.
The armed forces have many components. I will share with you the stories of two high ranking Air Force Reserve Non-Commissioned Officers and a high ranking Air National Guardsman who are serving their country and communities with their high levels of training, education, technical competence, experience, leadership and managerial responsibilities.
Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) John W. Edwards III, a Desert Shield/Desert Storm/Operation Noble Eagle, Post 9/11, a real trooper was born in Tifton, Georgia and now resides in Albany, Georgia. A 32 year Veteran, he is currently serving as the 76 Propulsion Maintenance Group (PMXG) Superintendent at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma where he is the Senior Advisor to the Commander making life threatening decisions about the major fighting war aircrafts that supports the conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and etc.
As a civilian, he has been an Educator for over 30 years and has also been a football and girls basketball coach. Mr. Edwards has been credited as the founder of the Southside Military Academy known as one of the first Middle School Military Academies in Georgia and have seen over 150 students graduate and enlist in the varies Armed Forces. His great inspiration and leadership help motivate his son, John W. Edwards IV to become an Electronic Warfare Technician Air Force Reservist. Between serving his country and his community, he enjoys weight lifting, painting, fishing and spending time with his family.
The artist, John W. Edwards’ biggest passion is capturing and creating images through his paintings. One of the most gratifying accomplishments was a portrait of a “Chief” after he had earned his CMSgt status.
He was inspired to paint it from the depths of his spirit and soul. When he gazes at his own creativity, he said he sees “the Air Force Chief is symbolized as the guardian of his or her family. The family of the United States of America and every individual no matter their color, creed or culture is considered to be red, white and blue as symbolized in the headdress”. Through his God gifted talent, he can paint anything. After all, he is a “Chief” of many high achievements.
Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) Patrick J. Wilcox is originally from Miami, Florida and has earned numerous awards. He is the Superintendent of Training and Education for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA), Defense Nuclear Weapons University Reserve Component, at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. He is responsible for continuing education, training and identifying key personnel/core competencies needed to develop and support the Department of Defense homeland defense training.
Mr. Wilcox is the Station Captain for the Redstone Arsenal Fire & Emergency Services and has also held other positions as a Fire Fighter and an Occupational Health and Safety Inspector.
His dream job is to continue to be a Hip Hop Culture Rapper with positive, inspiring lyrics with thumping beats and no foul language. Even though Wilcox released a solo album, “The Unauthorized Bio of Patrick”, he belongs to two musical groups. Andromeda consists of other Air Force singers, poets, musicians and producers with the highest ranking being aka “P.O.W Major (Marlon) Ferdinand”. This dynamic group was formed while they were stationed at Osan Air Base, Korea in 2001 and recorded their first album titled “In The Beginning”.
Wilcox’s second group was formed in 1996. Wilcox’s rapper name is “Conscience Rhyme” and his best friend MSgt Tavares Lowery rapper’s name is “Op-Solo”. They formed Purgatory which falls under their company name of Ill/Flo Entertainment named after their home states, Illinois and Florida.
Their latest video is “Sweet Dreams” featuring singer Charles McDaniel. It has a great realistic meaning. I really love the lyrics, the sound and the acting that convey this positive rap message. It was really impressive.
MSgt Tavares Lowery, a Chicago, Illinois native, is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of 601 Air Operations Center Training as an Air National Guardsman at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
He is responsible for positional training for personnel and is entrusted with homeland defense for the United States and North America Airspace. Also, he aids and assists with monitoring, tracking and ensuring safe airspace for the President of the United States during his stateside movements.
Lowery, “Op-Solo” deep passion is being a rapper just like his partner Wilcox, “Conscience Rhyme”. Since the forming of their 1996 group, they have a lasting bond of 18 years as Purgatory.
Op-Solo is proud to say “our group doesn’t partake in the degrading of women, glorification of materialistic items and negativity throughout urban America. Purgatory champions itself in the creation of music that is simple enough to lead a child, but yet profound enough to inspire your grandfather. No negativities added and no profanities necessary. Every lyric is clean and critically acclaim within the most pure facets of hip hop music”. These two Senior Non Commissioned Officers uses their rapping talent in a dignified way and have already produced two albums and will be releasing their third album entitled “Quarter Water” later this year.
There are many other service men and women serving their country proudly whether either as active duty or a reserve. As we continue to focus on our great country’s achievements and these senior enlisted servicemen, let each one of us remember you can have a productive life whether military or civilian. We are in this life together so support one another and overall support your own citizenship and have a Bless and Happy “4th of July”. So today, I salute you and including myself having served over 30 years in the United States Air Force Reserve and Active Duty. May God continue to bless the United States of America.
Copyright © 2014.July This story written and photos by Renee Sudderth for Splash Magazines. It is not to be sold or reproduce without written permission of Renee Sudderth