We Salute Our Meadow Ridge Veterans
In our Meadow Ridge community, we are privileged to have resident veterans who have served our nation with distinction. This month, we honor all our veterans, but here we share the stories of two who unite us in gratitude and respect: Nick Lacey and Bob Wiley.
Nick’s family has a tradition of service with a strong aviation background. His father had served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and later became a corporate pilot. In 1969, when Nick faced the choice of enlisting or being drafted, he decided to join the United States Air Force in its flight program.
One of the most memorable missions of his career was being the pilot in command to supply Israel with food during the Yom Kippur War.
“During that war, it felt good to be active duty military and do something that was appreciated by an entire country,” Nick says, adding that the Israeli schoolchildren asked to keep the crew manifest. Weeks later, he received messages from the children thanking him for “saving their country.”
He also flew in the VIP squadron at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Among the distinguished passengers of the planes he piloted were vice presidents Nelson Rockefeller, Fritz Mondale and George Bush Sr.
During his service, the Air Force sent him to Clark Air Base, where he and his family embarked on a four-year adventure in the Philippines. The experience introduced the family to a different culture and a new education system for his children. Nick says he believes it helped him make friends for life.
“When you’re overseas, you’re all experiencing the same thing at the same time. You’re all close as expats,” he says. “You find people that you stay in touch with forever.”
Nick never intended to make the military his lifelong career, but he served for 24 years, retiring as a colonel in 1994.
Bob Wylie knew from a young age that he would serve. His father served in World War I and volunteered to re-enlisted when World War II started. Patriotism was ever-present in the family’s home and heavily influenced Bob’s decision to serve.
In 1943, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Army Air Force.
“I was a young person, and I wanted to be engaged,” Bob says of his eagerness to enlist. “My father had enlisted at the age of 46, and he was already overseas when I decided to, too.”
His wartime service sent him to Europe in 1944, where he served on a B17 bomber crew. He was the togglier who flipped the switch that dropped the bombs when the lead plane gave the signal.
“I was based in England, and we were bombing occupied Europe, primarily Germany,” Bob says.
“Being a veteran means that I did my service when the country was in danger.”
After the war, Bob resumed his education at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., completed his college degree and began a career in the manufactured fibers industry.
Today, Bob helps honor other veterans at Meadow Ridge. On Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Bob plays a role in planning and facilitating gatherings for all who have served.
“We represent all different branches—Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard,” Bob says. “On Veterans Day, we ask them to mix and mingle with other veterans and get to know their fellow residents.”