MONT ALTO, Pa. — Brig. Gen. Wilbur Wolf III honored and thanked all United States military veterans during Penn State Mont Alto’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 11.
“It is my hope that today and forever more, we will always remember and never forget the honorable service of all generations of veterans, that today and on every tomorrow, we repay to you, by our words and by our deeds, some of that which you have earned by your service to this nation,” said Wolf to the veterans in the audience.
Wolf served in uniform for more than 32 years, including 10 years active duty in the U.S. Army and 22 years in the National Guard. He retired from the position of Pennsylvania National Guard director of joint staff in 2016.
Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor Francis K. Achampong also addressed the more than 100 people who gathered for the service, welcoming them to campus and sharing some of the campus’ history of military service. Mont Alto student Tanner B. Wetzel, U.S. Army veteran and member of the Student Veterans of America (SVA), introduced Wolf and closed the ceremony. In addition, the Penn State Mont Alto Chorale sang the National Anthem and the Big Spring High School Cantabile performed “Tell My Father” and “In Flanders Fields.” Photos of the event are available here.
Wolf related a time of his service to that of his father’s, Wilbur Wolf Jr., who graduated from the Penn State University School of Forestry, now Penn State Mont Alto, and served in the U.S. Army retiring at the rank of captain.
“I was the first to take an official allied flight over East Berlin and East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989,” he said. “It was a proud moment to be sure. And for me, it was a greatly symbolic flight, knowing that my dad —who just a few years prior had been a Penn State forestry student here — had been flying his L-19 Bird Dog over Germany along with many other U.S. forces that stood to counter the Soviets during the building of the Berlin Wall on the Eastern German border,” said Wolf.
“The Cold War was symbolically over,” said Wolf, who like others, felt the fall of the wall meant the end of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Cold War. “Democracy had prevailed over Socialism and Communism. Freedom and liberty had once again overcome oppression. The Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact were done,” he said.
During his speech, Wolf also recognized and thanked Adam DeGregorio, a student at Big Spring High School. DeGregorio had recently led an effort to raise funds for a plaque to be placed at the Penn State Mont Alto campus in honor of Wolf’s father who, at the time of his death in January 2019, was serving as president of the Big Spring School Board. A contingent of the Big Springs High School community was present at the ceremony.
He also reminded the audience to honor veterans of today as well as those who sacrificed in previous wars but are no longer alive.
“To a great extent we are left with the history books and memorials to remind us of their sacrifices. To remind us why they fought, to learn the lessons of that time to be better prepared to deal with the diversity of our time in both war and in peace.”
Wolf said that while wars throughout our history have divided us, in many cases it has also served to unite us.
“Regardless of cause, we have come to reflect on a U.S. warrior as being honorable and generally regarded military service as a hard work continuation of citizenship and commitment to the greater good of the whole and the continuation in this great experimentation we know as the United States of America.”
He acknowledged that today our country is divided along ideological lines but believes in putting America first.
“I am many things and I have my own strong opinions about the many key issues of the day and about the best way to head this country. But I am first and foremost a proud American. This country is not perfect. But it is my country. These stars and stripes, they are and always will be my flag. I am very proudly, Citizen Wolf,” he said.