As part of the events to be held on Wingman Day Nov. 4, Norberto “Norbie” Lara from the Wounded Warrior Project will speak about resiliency and life challenges at the Base Theater from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Lara represents Warriors Speak, a Wounded Warrior Project program. Warriors Speak is a group of wounded warriors and caregivers who share their unique stories with the public. While sharing their inspirational stories of courage, perseverance, recovery and growth, the speakers describe how WWP has aided them in recovery and the transition back to civilian life.
While on a combat patrol in Iraq, a rocket-propelled grenade struck Lara’s vehicle. The RPG penetrated the firewall and severed his arm. Shrapel from the explosion also ripped through Lara’s body, lacerating his liver. Inhaling smoke and fumes when the RPG exploded caused severe lung damage also.
Lara joined the U.S. Army in 1995. His career took him from military police training at Fort McClellan, Ala., to his first duty station at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. He then was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas where he deployed to Kuwait and Bosnia. Lara was later assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., when he was deployed to Iraq.
Lara represented the Army at the State of the Union Address in 2005 as First Lady Laura Bush’s honored guest. He was awarded Veteran of the Year for both the 34th California Assembly District and by the Visalia Veteran’s Committee from Visalia, Calif., his hometown. Lara’s military awards include the Combat Action Badge, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
“This is an opportunity for unit cohesion and to develop the wingman concept,” said Nancy Koch-Castillo, 412th Test Wing community support coordinator. “We are all Airmen – every Air Force civilian, officer and enlisted member is an Airman. The term Wingman stems from a time-honored tradition within our Air Force flying community that essentially says a wingman will always stay with and protect the lead pilot, watching his/her back. It’s a promise, a pledge, a commitment between Airmen.
“Success rests with Airmen engaging with other Airmen in a way that fosters communication and connection. Practicing being a good Wingman needs to happen daily.”
At the unit level, commanders and directors will discuss wingman intervention, health and welfare inspections, and having a professional environment.