On Veterans Day earlier this month, America honored those men and women who have tirelessly and courageously served our country. One of Metcam’s very own, Jerry Ward, has a special story of service.

The company co-owner and vice president of operations joined the Air Force in early 1966 and was stationed in Thailand for a year during the Vietnam War. Returning to the states, he got assigned to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, where he worked on automatic flight control systems, a.k.a. autopilot, which supported NASA. As an Air Force avionics technician, he served the Apollo 7 through 12 missions.

“It was quite an ordeal,” Ward said. “We had war priority heading into the mission because you can’t miss the mission.”

Tracking the spacecraft was difficult given that the world is two-thirds water and the land tracking stations, which send out signals that meet way above the earth, are very directional. In the void over different oceans, aircraft with big antennas were needed to receive communication from the spacecraft or capsule. As part of the support crew, Ward was responsible for handling and transferring the tapes carrying the astronauts’ vitals and other critical information.

“Looking back at my military history, I don’t regret a minute of it,” Ward said. “The military taught me a lot of things like responsibility and how to get along with my fellow man. The way the military treated one another, there was no such thing as I’m black, you’re white, etc. We’re all equal.”

In this season of thanksgiving, Metcam celebrates veteran leaders like Jerry Ward, who selflessly serve others and inspire us to be our best selves.