It is the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s honor to present the 2011 Howard O. Scott Citizen-Soldier of the Year Award – this year to an U.S. Air Force Reservist – to Lt. Col. Diego Wendt.
Taking a leave from Boeing Company as an instructor pilot for the 737 and 777, Diego Wendt has flown for the past 18 months with the 97th Airlift Squadron, 446th Airlift Wing at JBLM-McChord Field.
Lt. Col. Wendt has deployed a total of 265 days, commanding resupply missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Antarctica as well as deploying for a six month tour as the acting Director of Mobility Operations at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Lt. Col. Wendt defines the word “service.” In 2005, Wendt and his wife Kim, co-founded 4US, an all-volunteer charity which raises money to buy ultrasound machines for crisis pregnancy centers. Since 2005, 4US has raised over $655,000 making possible the purchase of 15 ultrasound machines for centers across the state as well as providing the necessary staff training to operate each one. The first six machines were donated directly to pregnancy centers in Pierce County.
Each year, he organizes a single-day bike ride, run, walk and family fun festival hosted at Point Defiance Park. The event draws over a thousand participants from across the state and raises funds for 4US. Having outgrown the confines of Point Defiance Park, this year’s event is being held at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.
Lt. Col. Wendt’s service does not end there.
- He is an active member of St Patrick’s Parish, serving as a lector and member of the Knights of Columbus;
- He organized and led a 10-member team in a week long effort to renovate a neighborhood widow’s home as she prepares to put the house on the market;
- He volunteers as a substitute “Spin Instructor” at the Downtown Tacoma YMCA.
Diego is also a supportive husband to his wife Kim (a Lt. Col. in the Washington ANG), and is an engaging father of four small children, Lanie (age 7), Danny (age 6), David (age 4) and Brian (age 2) who live in and attend school in North Tacoma.
His children are taught the importance of service:
- Each has a role in 4US from stuffing envelopes to starring in the yearly promotional videos;
- The older children help serve pancakes at the Knights of Columbus breakfasts;
- They assist in the neighborhood home renovation effort;
- They collect toys and clothing for delivery to local crisis pregnancy centers;
- and they help prepare meals for families facing difficulties.
While the Wendt family serves their nation and community year-round, they place a high priority on maintaining family values. When Diego is not deployed, the family enjoys eating dinner together and attending Mass while ensuring “pajama days” and family vacations hold equal importance on a packed schedule.
A balanced life of service to country, community and family are the reasons behind this family’s success. Lieutenant Colonel Diego Wendt’s compassion, commitment and community impact in Pierce County and beyond makes him deserving of the Citizen-Soldier of the Year Award.
About Howard O. Scott
Each year, the Citizen-Soldier Award memorializes Howard Scott who grew up in Tacoma and served the nation when called upon during World War II—as part of “America’s Greatest Generation.” He returned to succeed as a banker in Tacoma, giving of his time to community service organizations, believing and enjoying this in his belief that doing so is one’s responsibility.