Lamar at a Glance
The Quick History
A Not-So-Quick History
Born and raised in southwest Atlanta, Georgia, G. Lamar Wilkie was that oddball that no one could figure out. He didn’t “fit” into the usual categories in school… so he was the outcast. Tormented by bullies and largely ignored by everyone else. He studied hard, took extra classes, and graduated from a long-gone high school a semester ahead of schedule.
He was content with the living arrangement he had with his single mother Nona, helping with the rent while enjoying an illustrious career in the fast-food industry. His aspirations of becoming an architect had faded and he was just drifting through life.
All that changed when she fell in love and told Lamar to “pick a service” and go into the military, because she was getting married and moving in with her new husband in New Jersey. He took the ASVAB (a test to determine vocational aptitude, not knowledge) and discovered he had a knack for electronics. He enlisted in the Navy’s Advanced Electronics Field in August 1981; took a one-semester community college course in electronics to get some basic knowledge; and reported for the first passenger flight of his life – headed to boot camp – in January 1982.
His first assignment in 1983, after his extensive training, was USS John Young (DD-973), a destroyer based in San Diego, California, while in overhaul in Long Beach. From there he traveled to exotic places like Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
In 1986 he was assigned to U.S. Naval Communications Area Master Station Mediterranean (NAVCAMS MED) in Naples, Italy. It was located on the NATO base in Bagnoli, down the volcanic mountain Sulfatara and the small, co-ed barracks in Pozzuoli. Co-ed!
Lamar’s only problem was that it was there that he met his arch-nemesis: a “rules & regulations, by the book” Navy woman. He was more of the free-spirited type… and they quickly took it as their life’s mission to make each other miserable. It was only on a dare that they went on a road trip together to the East Coast of Italy: it was on that trip that the miraculous happened. They discovered that they had a lot more in common than they could have imagined. Hate quickly turned to acceptance, then to like, then to love. They ran together for the next two years, touring the Italian countryside, enjoying awesome food, wine and experiences.
When they were due for orders again, Lamar was assigned to another destroyer (USS Arthur W. Radford DD-968) while in overhaul in New Orleans. She (Donna) was assigned to a small base on Crete, Greece… the opposite direction. It was the low point of Lamar’s adult life – he was alone and felt the weight of that loneliness every waking moment. It got so bad that he took a week’s leave, bought a round-trip commercial air ticket to Crete and flew halfway around the world to see her… for just three days.
After overhaul was complete, the ship returned to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia. Donna came up for orders and was assigned to a small training center in Dam Neck, Virginia: just 25 miles from Norfolk. They both realized that they had been brought together again and took the divine hint. Lamar and Donna were married in December 1990.
Kids came along in 1992 and 1993, and Lamar was assigned as lead instructor and course supervisor for an advanced, applied theory course at Fleet Training Center in Norfolk (Electromagnetic Compatibility Technician). He loved the subject matter and loved teaching: so much that he earn the Distinguished Instructor and Master Training Specialist designations.
Donna, disgusted with the misogyny she was encountering in negotiating orders, left active service to raise their son and daughter. In 1996 the family moved to Bahrain for a three-year tour, as Lamar served as Plans Officer at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Bahrain. He was responsible for the building, installation and activation of over $20 Million in critical telecommunications upgrades for the Middle East theater… and completed all projects ahead of schedule and under budget.
In 1999 the Wilkie family again moved: this time to central Alabama, where Lamar served as NROTC Scholarship Coordinator for a three-state region. His assignment was to canvas more than 300 high schools, identifying potential, qualified applicants for the Navy’s full-ride, 4-year scholarship. It was from this pool that the Navy’s next generation of officers would graduate. The languishing program had failed to meet its goals for 5 years – Lamar’s first year met 100% goal; his second year met 103% goal; his third & final year met 110% goal.
20 and a half years later, In July 2002 Lamar retired as a Chief Electronics Technician. He, his Darling Bride Donna and their two young children retired to Fort Walton Beach, Florida – where, two weeks after retirement, Lamar underwent a routine surgery with a 98% success rate… he was the 2%. An emergency surgery, several units of blood, loss of his spleen and permanent nerve damage resulted in his inability to sustain gainful, 40-hour a week employment. He received VA disability compensation, since the condition for which he underwent surgery occurred on active duty.
In 2007, tired of hurricanes, taxes and insurance, the Wilkie family moved to Manchester, Tennessee. Lamar became involved in church, local civics and veterans issues. His gift with the written word, along with his technological skills, were quickly noticed: he began creating websites, writing copy and content, and publishing press releases.
Having written short books for both their children Chris and Athena, he had been so encouraged to publish them as books that he did; both are available at all major ebook sites.
As an accomplished writer and public speaker, Lamar hasn’t stopped: he’s also an aspiring musician and songwriter; he has composed dozens of songs with music and lyrics. He has published dozens of Op-Eds across the state, and the local newspaper considers his drafts better than many smooth submissions.
Lamar continues to write books and music, volunteer his copywriting skills to non-profit organizations like the local veterans’ organizations in which he serves. He is Senior Vice Commander and Adjutant of VFW Post 10904; and Treasurer of DAV Chapter 90.