GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Maj. Gen. Tom Wilkerson, a charismatic veteran who served in Desert Storm, admitted he had one job when he took the microphone at the Memorial Day Ceremony at The Carolina Field of Honor.
“Reminding folk what Memorial Day is all about,” said Wilkerson, who was the events speaker. “Memorial day is honoring those who died in combat operations and in service.”
The fifth-annual ceremony lasted a little under an hour but the fighter pilot can talk for days about the reason he was able to have a successful 32 years of service with the Marines.
“I was very fortunate because my dad was my mentor and advisor and helped me quit making stupid errors, which I was prone to do,” he said.
His now 99-year-old father, Lloyd Wilkerson, went from private to major general in his 38 years of service, making them the only living retired major general father-son duo.
“I could ask any stupid question I wanted about why we do things the way we do in the military or in the Marine Corps and he would give me his answer and he wouldn’t shoot me,” he said, of his father.
Combined, Wilkerson’s immediate family has over 100 years of service in the Marine Corps and the run of major generals stops with Tom.
“I have two daughters and neither of them decided on military careers and that’s just fine,” he said.
In the crowd was 95-year-old Sgt. Thomas Gibbs Sr.
He worked the crowd at the Memorial Day Ceremony.
The Greensboro native was happy to remember his brothers and sisters who couldn’t be at Triad Park Monday.
“Something that were so proud of,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs served in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
“I was in the Marine Air Corps as a crew chief,” he said.
A little over a year ago, his children came together to get him a plaque on the wall at the Field of Honor.
“It was a surprise to me when they did it,” he said.
Some asked for pictures, others stopped to speak. But Gibbs humbly reminded them the ceremony is to honor the fallen American warriors.
“It’s very little compared to what some of them did,” he said.