Have you ever noticed the many memorial stones scattered about The Citadel campus? I have and have felt compelled to respectfully read their terse, poignant dedications to fallen cadets. The stories of these fine young men form a significant part of what goes into making The Citadel’s history so cherished and so honorable. Their lives should not go unread like so many dusty, forgotten tomes on the back shelves of libraries. By composing a series of articles combining archival materials, old photographs, remembrances by fellow cadets, friends and family, faculty and staff, I am attempting in some small way to pay tribute to these boys and men by keeping alive the meaning of their lives and deaths. The following is the first article in the series.
Steven Michael Wildman, ’70
This moving quote from the U.S. Air Force hymn bedecks a memorial stone dedicated to Capt. Steven Michael Wildman, Class of 1970, Hotel Company. After careful deliberation, Wildman’s widow, along with Steve Josias, his classmate, friend and next door neighbor in Padgett-Thomas Barracks, chose these words as the most fitting tribute to a cadet whose lifelong passion was flying, who bravely flew for his country in Vietnam and who gave his life training new pilots. The tree that shades his stone is a holly brought specially from Colorado because that was the place Wildman loved the most. The memorial stone itself was generously purchased by a Citadel classmate who chooses to remain anonymous.
Steve Wildman Class of 1970
Classmates Steve Josias, Bubba Kennedy and Mike Rogers all fondly remember Wildman as a young man who enjoyed life to the fullest, who loved to play practical jokes but who was always intensely serious about becoming a pilot just like his father.
“He was loquacious, energetic, enthusiastic, a picture perfect cadet who could be on the cover of a Citadel publication,” Josias said.
Rogers, whose dad was also a career officer in the Air Force, remembers spending hours with Wildman watching planes pass overhead and mapping out future plans. After graduation, Wildman achieved his overriding dream of flying military jets and in Vietnam won numerous combat decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross, what Rogers calls “a most highly respected medal.”
“Only the very best pilots, such as Steve Wildman, were selected [by the Air Force] to be flight trainers,” Rogers said.
While at The Citadel Wildman was a member of the Summerall Guards, the English Club, the Arnold Air Society and the Gymnastics Club. He made the Dean’s List and was a second lieutenant.