A family’s legacy – a torch of honor and patriotism – which started with a father and uncles serving in the United States Navy and Army during World War II, was passed down to sons and now grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
It is a fitting honor for the Wakefield and Wherry descendants of the enslaved and sharecroppers.
Oldest son, William Thomas “Tommy” Wakefield, attending Frazier High School in Covington, graduating in May 1964. He entered the United States Army in November 1964, a tumultuous time in American history, attending bootcamp in South Carolina and advanced military training in Texas. Assigned to the 562d Artillery Division in Fulda, Germany, he was the HAWK Missile Crewmember/Trainer for the Army’s 6th Battalion. As the HAWK missile trainer, he maintained and prepared HAWK missiles and associated equipment for launching missions and supervised operations of HAWK missile firings. Wakefield served two years on active duty and four years in the United States Army Reserves. He separated honorably as a Staff Sergeant in 1970.
Although, Wakefield’s four younger brothers followed him into military service, they did not follow him into the Army, opting instead to join the United States Air Force, the path their uncle, Olune Wakefield, took during World War II. Their father, Andrew Wherry Jr. served in the United States Navy during the second world war.
The second oldest brother, Leamon E. Wherry, born to Andrew Wherry Jr. and Ruby L. Wakefield, attended George R. Ellis Jr. High School in Munford, graduating in May 1968. After graduation, he entered the United States Air Force on July 1968 as a Law Enforcement Patrol Officer. Leamon served in various capacities as a law enforcement officer, including investigator, at bases in California, Utah and Colorado and in several overseas locations, including Vietnam, Taiwan, Guam, and England.
His last assignment for the Air Force saw him serving as the Deputy Director of the Family Support Center assigned to the 323rd Air Base Group, Mather AFB, Calif., where he developed internal policies and procedures consistent with local operational needs and assisted in the development and presentation of programs to meet identified needs of base personnel and their families. Master Sergeant Wherry supervised more than 46 volunteers while serving as liaison with civilian, commercial, military, and other governmental entities. MSgt Wherry spent 20 years in the United States Air Force and retired in August 1988.
Timothy Wherry was the third brother to join the military, and the second to enter the Air Force. Graduating from Munford High School in 1974, 17-year-old Tim entered the Air Force on June 26, 1974 as a Material Storage and Distribution Specialist and cross-trained into the pharmacy career field in May 1978. Serving across the United States in Texas, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Florida and Georgia, Idaho and overseas in the Philippines, Tim had a storied career in the Pharmacy field and at the end of his career, he provided pharmacy services to over 50,000 eligible beneficiaries while serving as the Superintendent, Pharmacy Services assigned to the 34th Support Squadron, 34th Medical Group, Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
Tim Wherry spent 21 years in the United States Air Force and retired as a Master Sergeant in April 1995.
The fourth brother to serve his country, Ridley H. Wherry, also did so as an Airman, entering the Air Force after graduating Munford High in Spring 1976. By the end of 1976, he had made his decision to enter the United States Air Force on December 1976 as an Administrative Specialist.
MSgt Ridley H. Wherry served at Air Force bases across the country, including Texas, Mississippi, and Florida and overseas in Germany and Iceland. For his final duty assignment, he served as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Administration, assigned to the 2nd Fighter Squadron, Tyndall AFB, Fla., and he was responsible to the commander and staff for providing all administrative, personnel, and manning actions relating to all assigned personnel. His team’s efforts and professionalism contributed to maintaining mission readiness.
MSgt Wherry spent 19 years in the United States Air Force before retiring as a Master Sergeant in January 1995.
The youngest brother, Victor D. Wherry, will jokingly confirm he outranks all his older brothers. He also went the path of our nation’s aviation service and, like his three other brothers who served in the Air Force, he also completed a career rising to the rank of Senior Master Sergeant at the time of his retirement in June 2004.
Victor Wherry attended Munford High School, graduated in May 1982, and entered the United States Air Force on November 1982 as a Passenger and Household Goods Specialist. Not only serving in Texas, California, and Oklahoma, SMSgt Wherry also served in several exotic locations including Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and England. For his last tour, Victor served as his squadron’s First Sergeant, responsible for the effective leadership, management, morale and welfare of the unit’s military and civilian personnel.
During his career, SMSgt Victor D. Wherry earned five Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Air Force Achievement Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, seven Air Force Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, two Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, three Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbons, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, five Air Force Longevity Service Awards, three Professional Military Education Ribbons and Air Force Training Ribbon.
The brothers were honored with a well-attended reception in February before COVID-19 struck the country.
With friends, family, and community members in attendance, they were recognized for their life-long dedication to their country and its people.
The Tipton County Museum, Veterans Memorial and Nature Center, located at 751 Bert Johnston Ave.in Covington, currently features an exhibit honoring Sgt. Wakefield and his younger Wherry brothers.
The exhibit will be available until the end of December and can be seen when the museum is open for business, currently Tuesday and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m.