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Veteran's Day Salute: Former Lt. Col. Craig Wells

November 11, 2020 01:33 PM

Craig Wells, of Six Mile, SC, is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and a 26-year veteran. He serves as USTA Southern Diversity & Inclusion Committee member and is a PTR Certified Tennis Professional. In his own words, Wells describes his military service and involvement in tennis.

Wells_Craig_Military

Military service

The greatest privilege I have had was the opportunity to lead over 200 soldiers into high intensity combat during the Gulf War. The esprit de corps, teamwork, and trust proved critical during dangerous minefield breaching operations and mobility support to the 1st Tiger Brigade’s attack to liberate Kuwait.

My military experience, with its focus on values, has impacted my philosophy as a coach prioritizing sportsmanship, effort and fun.

I retired after 26 years of active duty service, two years as an enlisted military policeman and 24 years as a Commissioned Officer in the Corps of Engineers.

I began my career in 1979 as an enlisted military policeman serving in a nuclear surety position with the 202nd Military Police Company. In 1983 I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. My first duty assignment was with the 237th Engineer Battalion in Heilbronn, Germany. Other duty included service at Fort Hood, TX, Hohenfels, Germany, and Vicenza, Italy. My final active duty assignment was the Deputy District Commander, US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, AL.

My military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Services, Army, and Navy Commendation medals, Parachutist Badge and the Bronze DeFleury Medal.

Tennis programs

Veterans and military family tennis outreach: We successfully offered six weeks of tennis instruction to military veterans, military retirees and their family members. The common bond of military service brought us to become a cohesive group enjoying a sport we love and opportunity to share some of our unique experiences in fellowship. The instruction was offered at Spindle Tree Racquet Club in Seneca, SC. It was made possible by a USTA Southern grant.

Health benefits: We are establishing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, SC, and USTA South Carolina to use tennis as a rehabilitative tool for veterans. The initial concept was based on a successful program started on the west coast for wheelchair tennis play when there was a national MOA between the USTA and the VA. Our local coordination is led by the USTA SC Director of Community Development, Sheryl McAlister.

10U tennis instruction: I continue to volunteer weekly tennis lessons to developing young players with a focus on fun. This effort is part of an ongoing obligation to give back to tennis after receiving professional certification by the PTR’s Advancing the Commitment to Education (ACE) program.

No-cut tennis: I serve as a no-cut coach of the girls’ varsity tennis team at D.W. Daniel High School, in Central, SC, with 20 members. With a very young team we were able to advance to the quarter final of the state tournament.

Tennis impact

I grew up in Beaufort, SC, where tennis was and still is very popular due to the proximity to Hilton Head Island. I now appreciate more benefits of playing an integrity sport where character is on full display. I like tennis because sportsmanship is essential to fair play and enjoyment of the game.

Favorite player

Had to ponder who my favorite player is and was leaning toward Roger Federer but decided to go with Arthur Ashe. A great American player who was an excellent ambassador for our sport. Ashe is also the founding representative of the Professional Tennis Registry’s ACE Hero program that I am proud to be a part of as their twelfth recognized member.

 

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