The morning of Jan. 4, 2014, war hero Wesley Schierman passed away in his Everett home after his short battle with lung cancer. Upon his request, he insisted that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to RAHS’ Airline Career Experience (ACE) club and Ground School.
ACE club’s president Alex Wencel shared his thoughts about the donations.
“I found out [about the donations] in the middle of class when it was announced by Mr. Hoehne in his History of Aircraft Design Class,” said Wencel. “I was surprised and grateful and could not believe such a thing could happen.”
Mr. Schierman’s request was to show students that aviation is important and wanted students to be aware of the demand for pilots in today’s society.
“I believe that [the] intent in his message and lessons are that aviators are needed,” said Wencel. “He wants the future generation to remember the past generation and to carry on the traditions of brave aviators.”
Grateful future pilots in ACE club and Ground School will put these donations towards educational expenses.
“It is going to give the club opportunities to go on trips to local companies and events,” said Wencel. “It [will] definitely ease the costs on the students for going on these trips. As well it will give us the ability to purchase educational materials.”
Though Mr. Schierman’s dying wish was to supplement both ACE club and Ground School with funds, his presence was largely unknown throughout RAHS before his death.
“I personally did not know Mr. Schierman,” said Wencel. “I have asked around with current and former members of the club. No one [knew] him, he is a mystery to many of us.”
According to Schierman’s wife, he was charmed by aviation when he first saw planes around age three. Five years after that, a carnival came to his town and a barnstorm flyer performed at this event.
“Somehow he [received] a ride in that airplane,” said Mrs. Faye Schierman.
Mrs. Schierman explained that a young Wesley Schierman convinced the pilot to take him for a ride in the plane. Thinking his father would say no, Schierman was the happiest little boy in the world when the opposite happened and he got a ride in the plane. As they say, “the rest is history.”
Pairing his passion for aviation with his patriotism, Mrs. Schierman described that he was an aviation enthusiast and lived his life that way.
Mr. Schierman felt like he could relate to a quote by William Allen White, “Liberty is the thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.”
Mr. Schierman served under the United States Air Force as a pilot. He was captured Aug. 28, 1965, flying an F-105 over North Vietnam. He spent more than seven years as a captive prisoner.
“My greatest tribulation was that of overcoming my grief at having subjected my wife and children to the painful and difficult experience that they were to undergo,” said Mr. Schierman via the P.O.W. Network, a website dedicated to information about prisoners of war and missing in action servicemen.
With his love for his family, Mr. Schierman was able to remain strong throughout the war. This strong faith and confidence in his wife’s ability to overcome those difficulties was rewarded by a strength that far exceed his expectations.
“I have enjoyed my homecoming return to freedom and reunion with my family more than words can describe, and l look to the future with joyous anticipation,” said Mr. Schierman in his post.
Mr. Schierman planned to return to his previous employment as a Northwest Airlines pilot when he returned from North Vietnam.
After retiring from the Air Force as a Major and eventually from the airlines, Mr. Schierman spoke at schools about the aviation industry and the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Although Mr. Schierman is not with us anymore he will always be remembered for his generosity and bravery. RAHS is forever grateful for these donations and look forward to the future to come.