Tom Equels, a Cobra helicopter pilot who flew 300 combat missions during the Vietnam War, refuses to let his lost comrades — one in particular — be forgotten.
Equels, a decorated veteran who later became a lawyer, artist and CEO, painted a piece called “Lest We Forget,” which was inspired by funeral services for his friend and fellow pilot Mickie Allen Wilson, who died in Vietnam at age 24.
A ceremony was held Tuesday at The Villages VA Outpatient Clinic to hang the painting, which depicts soldiers holding an American flag during a military honors funeral.
“A lot of veterans have had the courage and commitment to serve in foreign wars, including the Korean War and Vietnam War, and continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is about remembering those that make the ultimate sacrifice,” Equels said about the painting.
The artwork hangs in the Primary Care lobby of the expansive facility, which serves a patient population of about 22,000 veterans, including referrals from other area VA clinics.
“Army aviators have a tradition of toasting pilots who make the ultimate sacrifice by toasting ‘To the Lost,’” Equels said. Tuesday was one more toast to Wilson, he added.
The clinic’s chief medical officer, Dr. Todd Donahoe; public affairs officer, Daniel Henry; and Thomas Wisnieski, director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veteran Health Care Systems, were among those who attended the event. Read more