General Kip Ward in the Community
There is no question that community service can strengthen communities, shape the direction of youngsters’ lives, and bring new awareness to important issues. General Kip Ward, President and Chief Operating Officer of SENTEL Corporation, has done just that in two events in which he recently participated. During Black History Month (February), General Ward was the guest speaker at the HistoryMaker’s Speak Out Assembly at School without Walls High School (SWWHS). If you are wondering what the HistoryMakers is, it is an organization (of which General Ward is a member) which since 1999, has recorded African American oral histories preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans, thereby enlightening millions of people worldwide. The interactive discussion that General Ward led at the high school centered around world affairs from a political and military perspective. General Ward was impressed by how well-read and informed the students were. They posed thoughtful questions about such current events as climate change, ISIS, and the presidential elections. SWWHS is a public magnet high school located on the campus of George Washington University in Washington D.C., with an impressive statistic showing that 99% of its students go on to attend college. In a separate, but nonetheless, significant event, General Ward participated in a panel presentation hosted by the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, discussing the role of the Triple Nickles during World War II. It is hard to imagine a time when the U.S. Army was segregated by no other criteria than skin color, and that African Americans could not be a part of the U.S. Army’s parachuters. Yet, this was the case – in our lifetime! The 555th (otherwise known as the Triple Nickles) Parachute Infantry Battalion was activated in 1942 as an all-black unit with black officers as well as black enlisted men. The battalion did not serve overseas during World War II. However, in May 1945 it was sent to the west coast of the United States to combat forest fires ignited by Japanese balloons carrying incendiary bombs. Although this potentially serious threat did not materialize, the Triple Nickles fought numerous other forest fires. Triple Nickle members courageously participated in dangerous fire-fighting missions throughout the Pacific Northwest during the summer and fall of 1945, jumping into trees on purpose, so that they could rope down to the ground at their own pace rather than slamming directly into dangerously hard and uneven mountain terrain upon landing. This earned them the nickname “Smoke Jumpers” in addition to “Triple Nickles.” Participating in the panel discussion was 94-year-young Thomas McFadden, one of the original Smoke Jumpers. Below is a picture of the decorated panelists, with Thomas McFadden in the center right, and General Ward second from the left.