Fairfield Glade Police Department held their annual Awards Banquet on Friday, Dec. 7, in which honored guest and keynote speaker, Retired Army Brig. Gen. Fred Wong, addressed the subject of service to the community.
“We have a very, very special guest speaker with us today,” said FGPD Chief Michael Williams, “retired Army General Fred Wong. This man has served his country above and beyond. He is a true example of service and sacrifice to his nation.”
Williams read Wong’s impressive list of accomplishments before welcoming him to the podium to address those who gathered to support and celebrate the FGPD.
Wong was born on the island of Maui, HI. He received an Army commission from the Eastern Washington University ROTC program, where he was designated as a distinguished military graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1964, and acquired his master’s degree in education in 1973. His military education was just as impressive, including signal officer’s basic course; jungle operations course; the infantry officer’s advanced course; commanding General Staff College; the army of War College; and the general officer’s capstone course.
Wong served with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. He was deployed with the division and was in combat in the Dominican Republican for his first tour of duty. He served two combat tours of duty in Vietnam. He had many command and staff assignments, including commander of a rifle company for an armored brigade.
As general, he opened relations with the Laotian Army and fostered that relationship between the U.S. and Laos addressing humanitarian issues. He served as assistant division commander to the 5th Infantry Division, the 2nd Armor Division and post commander at Fort Polk, LA.
His last assignment was as director of officer personnel management, in which he was responsible for guiding the careers of Army officers. He managed to draw down the Army officer’s corps at the end of the Cold War.
Wong retired from the Army in 1995. On Sept. 11, 2000, he was appointed chief of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service. In 2004, he became chief of Human Intelligence Support Services. He retired in September 2009, after 40 years of service to his nation.
In his retirement, Wong served on the Intelligence Community Diversity Advisory Board, established to advise the director for national intelligence on matters related to diversity, inclusion and equality across the community. He also served on the board of directors for the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County and on the board of the Fairfield Glade Community Church.
Wong has been decorated with Distinguished Service Medal; Silver Star for gallantry in action; Defense Superior Medal; three Legion of Merit Medals; four Bronze Stars; two Purple Hearts; four Meritorious Service Medals; two Air Medals; two Army Commendation Medals; Combat Informant Badge; Airborne Aircraft Crewman Badge; two Defense Intelligence Agent Director awards; and honored with a Leadership and Public Service Award by the American Government Executive Network in Washington, DC, in 2012; Exceptional Military Service Award from Eastern Washington University in 2016.
“As you can see, folks, a lifetime of service to his country,” said Williams, inviting Wong to speak. The general received much deserved applause and a standing ovation from all who were in the room.
Wong then spoke to attendees of the FGPD Awards Banquet with eloquence, humor, humility and decorum.
He began, “When Chief Williams extended an invitation for me to come here this morning, I was indeed honored, but, I admit, I was a little bit hesitant when I saw that you’re holding this breakfast and awards ceremony on the seventh of December. I ask all of us: 77 years ago, please remember and honor those who you know who served in the Greatest Generation. Many of them ‘grew me up’ to whatever I became.”
Wong spoke about returning recently from a reunion with the men with whom he’d served in Vietnam. “We tell the same war stories, but I think it’s beneficial that we are able to do that.”
He continued, “As the chief mentioned, I had 31 years in uniform,” Wong said. “And, yeah, I’ve been shot at a couple of times. So, I know that I have had many days of routine, very normal, activity and several days where the lives of those who served with me were in imminent danger and were in harm’s way.”
Wong then offered a personal anecdote about an incident when he struck a deer with his vehicle and FGPD Officer Peal assisted him.
“Some of you have protected our community above and beyond your traditional roles,” said Wong. “I have heard you carry groceries for the elderly, fix light bulbs, investigated loud noises, hunted for pets that had wandered off. Or you investigated what sounded like gunshots, mailbox damage maybe by a bear — or elderly drivers. I suspect that you have to investigate threats of violence, abusive behaviors and reports of fast-talking, promising vendors who collected upfront fees, but never delivered what they promised.”
Wong expressed his respect and support for police officers. He noted that his cousin is a retired police chief of Maui County in Hawaii.
“Thank all of you officers who have your service and your sacrifice and your really selfless duty. And if your spouse is here, I want to thank her for supporting you,” said Wong. “I suspect your lives can be either very routine, normal and maybe sometimes boring or it could be stressful and full of anxiety and excitement requiring the ability of both the police officer and the family members to handle and prioritize actions that must be done.”
Wong concluded, “God bless you all and thank you for your selfless service and dedication. I wish you and your families the very best. I know you will do your duty to the best of your ability. Be safe. Be prepared. And thank you for protecting the community that my bride and I live in here in Fairfield Glade.”
Then, he finished, “Finally, at this time of year, I want to wish all of you Mele Kalikimaka and hauʻoli makahiki hou” — Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Hawaiian.