Jimmy Wilson was born May 2, 1949 near Stevenson Alabama. He later moved to where he grew up in Scottsboro, Alabama. As Jimmy grew up he learned the value of hard work starting at school, later held part time jobs after school as a mechanic and operated the projector for two years at the Ritz Theatre in Scottsboro.
Soon after High School in 1968 he received his draft papers and was drafted into the Army in April 1969. In the Army he was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia for Basic training. He completed training with high marks including an award for maximum score of 500 on the PT (Physical Training) Test. On graduating he was shipped out to Fort Polk, Louisiana where he took his Advanced Infantry Training and received promotions to Specialist 3rd class. Again Wilson excelled on the PT test with a score of 500. Generally it was understood that Ft. Polk automatically meant Vietnam, but PFC Wilson was shipped out to Germany where he was promoted to Spec. 4th class and soon assigned to the maintenance pool. As time progressed Wilson was promoted to Acting Sp. E5 and took over the supervision of the motor pool.
In August 1970 Specialist Wilson received orders to Vietnam. Specialist Wilson arrived in Cam Rahn Bay for his assignment orders and then shipped out to Chu Lai where he was attached to Co. D, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry Regiment, 23rd Infantry Division.
Most of his tour was patrolling the areas around Fire Base Mary Ann that stretched miles out into the jungles from Chi Lai on the East coast to the border of Laos on the West.
Specialist Wilson often engaged in firefights, however on February 11th 1971, Specialist Wilson was serving as a rifleman and squad leader in the Hau Duc District of Vietnam. The point came under ambush with heavy fire and several were soon wounded. Specialist Wilson was far in the rear platoon when he answered the call for support and proceeded to collect M60 ammo and called his M60 gunner up. They experienced heavy fire with rifle fire most noticeably hitting the trees as they moved up, pausing occasionally until the ammo burst moved. As they moved forward, they also experienced several blasts from rocket propelled grenades or RPG’s including one blast which knocked Specialist Wilson to the ground with debris from an RPG only a few yards away. Once they arrived at the front line, Specialist Wilson first set the M60 gunner up and linked on more ammo for his fire. Specialist Wilson moved to a tree a few feet away and opened fire with his M16. A short time later a soldier to his left was seriously wounded and crying for help. Specialist Wilson called back for a medic several times but none came amid the heavy fire. Specialist Wilson did what he could to calm him and tried to cover some of the wounds, but that was to no avail, he passed shortly. Specialist Wilson proceeded to fire at the enemy positions until he received a splash down call, meaning they had maybe five seconds to back away and get down in preparation for incoming artillery.
For his courageous actions, Specialist Wilson received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device.
Among the other awards Specialist Wilson also received the Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Bars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation Issued for Valor while serving in Vietnam.
Specialist Wilson returned to the US on 7 April 1971 and received his discharged on 14 April 1971.
Following his completion of military service Mr. Wilson worked for Scottsboro Machine Tool for 4 Years. During that time he used the GI Bill to complete his Associates Degree with Focus on Engineering. He then transferred to Auburn University to study Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Wilson graduated from Auburn in August 1977 with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering Degree.
Following graduation from Auburn, Mr. Wilson was hired by Onan Corporation in Huntsville Al. As a Mechanical Engineer over various areas of responsibility. Mr. Wilson was later promoted to a Supervisor of the Engineering Department, and later again in 1989 promoted to Manager of Technical Services to include Mechanical Engineering, industrial Engineering, tool and Die, and Maintenance Departments. Mr. Wilson was recognized by Cummins as a key engineer and was listed in their corporate team as Liaison Engineer for all of Onan facilities.
Soon after the closing of the Onan Huntsville Facility, Mr. Wilson accepted a position as engineer of Copeland Corporation in Hartselle Alabama over Crankshaft Machining. He was soon again promoted to Supervisor of Engineering and then once again promoted to Manager of Technical Services including the machine shop and Assembly engineering departments, Tool and Die, and Maintenance department.
Copeland was also destined to be relocated, this time to Mexico. Mr. Wilson’s prior experience gave him the lead role in transfer and start up in Mexico. Following the successful relocation and qualification of the Copeland Assembly Operations to Reynosa Mexico, Mr. Wilson retired from Copeland Corporation in April 2011.
Mr. And Mrs. Wilson have 3 boys oldest to youngest Terry Wilson and wife Lori Wilson with granddaughters Kimberley and Lindsey, Kevin Wilson with granddaughter Kylee, and Roger Wilson and wife Vanessa Wilson with grandchildren Sarah, Jessica, and Christopher. Terry resides in Arab Alabama, Kevin and Roger and families live in Huntsville Alabama.
In 2014 in recognition of his military achievements and Valor award Mr. Wilson was inducted into the Madison County, Alabama “Hall Of Heroes”.