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    WWW: Who Was Willey?

    WWW: Who Was Willey?

    Courtesy Photo | Honor Guard member Tech. Sgt. Bill Willey, 177th Fighter Interceptor Group, New Jersey...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen  

    New Jersey National Guard   

    All true, but it doesn't really scratch the surface.
    Back when the 177th Fighter Wing was called the 177th Fighter Interceptor Group, several members of the 177th were honored at the General Chester A. Charles Competition Formation and Awards Ceremony on June 13, 1982.

    One of the honorees was Tech. Sgt. William G. Willey who worked in the Engine Shop.

    As a member of the base Honor Guard he was dressed up in the uniform of a Minuteman - the first American soldier - and he was being presented, with of all things, the Minuteman Award. He received the statue for leading the Wing's annual Toys for Tots drive, which he started in 1979.

    "Sergeant Willey's efforts on behalf of the 177th Fighter Interceptor Group have been outstanding," stated retired Senior Master Sgt. William Bagot. "He projects just the kind of image and displays the professionalism we can all be proud of. He's a credit to the military, his family and the nation."

    Tech. Sgt. Willey started the program when he was cleaning out a closet, discovered some old toys and donated them to a local hospital. By the time he received the award, the Toys for Tots program had become a yearly tradition at the 177th.

    On June 19, 1986, four years and six days after receiving the Minuteman statue, Willey died at the age of 44.

    Five months later, another 177th Honor Guard member, (then) Tech. Sgt. (now retired master sergeant) Skip Watson of the Aerospace Ground Equipment shop took over running the Toys for Tots program, to ensure that the program didn't fade away.
    That year, more than 3,000 toys were collected and distributed to various organizations and area families. When asked about the program's success, Watson said: " will always be Master Sgt. Bill Willey's Toys for Tots campaign."

    So that explains Master Sgt. Willeys' involvement with the 177th Fighter Wing annual Toys for Tots program and the boxes we see in front of the dining hall and at various locations around the base during the holidays.
    In 1987, the Chief's Council created the Master Sgt. William G. Willey Award to honor the memory of Master Sgt. Willey.

    Each November, the 177th Fighter Wing Chief's Council examines the year’s nominees and selects the recipient for the Willey Award, which is presented during the December Promotions and Awards Ceremony.

    The criteria are daunting: the selected individual is chosen based on superior performance, community service, professionalism and leadership; all the highest standards that are expected of a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer.

    Based upon that selection process receiving the Award would be very difficult; yet, when you think about what Willey once said, the motivation behind the award makes it very worthwhile.

    "Seeing the smiles on (the) children's faces makes me feel like I've accomplished everything (that) I could possibly want to.”



    Date Taken: 01.08.2010
    Date Posted: 10.26.2015 15:48
    Story ID: 179964

    Web Views: 174
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