Ronald Darwin Wingo, 73, of Warrior, died on May 13, 2013, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham. He was born on Dec. 31, 1939, in Sipsey in Walker County to the late James E. Wingo and the late Lucille Hatcher. At a very young age, he moved with his mother to Rockford, ILL. where upon graduation, he immediately volunteered for military duty, serving in combat beginning in 1964 as a member of the 1st Special Forces Group in Vietnam. Between tours, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan where he met his wife, marrying in 1967. In 1969, after several tours of duty in Vietnam, he received orders to attend the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Candidate School and attended the flight training program in Fort Rucker. Upon graduation, he returned to service in Okinawa, finally returning to the U.S. in 1975 with his wife and three young children, residing in Fayetteville, N.C. until 1980 when he retired from active military service as a Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) with the 82nd Airborne Division. Still young and full of adventure, he began his civilian career as a helicopter pilot, ferrying men and equipment to oil derricks in the Gulf of Mexico with Air Logistics from bases in Louisiana and Texas until 1984. Two years after moving his family hack home to Empire in Walker County, he began a new career in 1984 saving lives as a helicopter pilot for Carraway Methodist Medical Center's LifeSaver air ambulance service. After retiring as LifeSaver's Chief Pilot in 2000, he spent his final 12 years tending to his house and yard in Warrior, eagerly anticipating the annual Special Forces reunions from Tampa Bay to Seattle, Washington to catch up with old friends and brothers-in-arms, enjoying their company and reminiscing.
He leaves behind his wife of 46 years, Fumiko (Kawamistu) Wingo; three children, Brett (wife Cindy), Katharine and Linda Wingo; two brothers, Tony and Rex Wingo; four nephews, Ryan and Blake Wingo (Tony and Gail Wingo), Alan and Stephen Wingo (Rex and Tina Wingo); five grandchildren, Abbi Brown, Cody Small, Houston Wingo, Harrison Wingo and Hudson Wingo and a dwindling family of Veterans, an elite band of brothers who will miss him dearly.
Per his requests, the funeral services will be simple, with no open casket service. His cremated remains will be interred in the columbarium at the National Cemetery in Montevallo (3133 Alabama Hwy. 119) in a service with full military honors at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2013.
The family will host an informal gathering and reunion for friends, family and acquaintances on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn Reception Room (1795 Morris Ave. in Fultondale), to pay our respects and celebrate his life with food, drink and remembrances.
In lieu of flowers, per his requests, please make a donation to the Special Forces Association, P.O. Box 41436, Fayetteville, NC 28309; or online at www.specialforcesassociation.org.