City coins presented to Bob Jones Air Force Junior ROTC instructors
MADISON – One year has passed since the Madison mayor and city council first started awarding a city coin each month to honor citizens who have made outstanding contributions to the city.
“A lot of these folks go unnoticed,” Madison City Council President Steve Smith said in explaining the purpose behind the coin. “They don’t do what they do for recognition. They do it for the love of family and for the love of community. This is our way of saying thank you.”
Monday night, three outstanding educators who have made a tremendous impact on the city’s youth were honored. Councilwoman Maura Wroblewski presented city coins to retired Lieutenant Colonel Randy Herd, retired Major Melissa Lacey and retired Chief Master Sargent Ellis Clark of the Bob Jones Air Force Junior ROTC program.
Wroblewski’s daughter best summed up the reason for the honor in a video that was played during a coin presentation ceremony at the city council meeting last Monday.
“I certainly would not be where I am today without the aid and guidance I received from them in high school,” Sara Wroblewski said from her station at Joint AFB Charleston. She is a Bob Jones AFJROTC alumnus. “I know they are out there doing the same things for high school students today at Bob Jones. It’s truly amazing. I am truly thankful for what you guys have done in my life.”
Lt. Col. Herd credited the school’s administration, parents and cadets for the success the program has seen at Bon Jones.
“We have had excellent support for the program at Bob Jones from the administration. This type of support is really needed for a program like this to excel, and we have certainly received that,” Herd said. “There are many places at Bob Jones where you can learn about leadership and you can learn about citizenship, but there is only one place where that is job one — and that’s the Jr. ROTC program.
“Thank you to the council and city for recognizing us. It’s means so much to me and to have it recognized in this way is really special,” Herd continued.
Chief Clark and Maj. Lacey also expressed their appreciation for the honor and brought attention to the quality of cadets who have come through the program.
Wroblewski recognized each of the honorees by reading their biographies and presenting a city coin to each of them.
Lieutenant Colonel Randy S. Herd, served on active duty in the Air Force for over 24 years. He earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (with four oak leaf clusters) and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He also was awarded the Air Force Scientific Achievement Award and holds a US patent for a radar cruise missile detection system.
After his retirement from active duty in 2003, he served for 16 years as the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor for the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Bob Jones High School. He received the Gold Instructor’s Badge and was awarded the AFJROTC Outstanding Instructor Award 8 times. During his tenure, the unit was awarded the AFJROTC Distinguished Unit Award with Merit (3 times), the AFJROTC Distinguished Unit Award (4 times), and the AFJROTC Outstanding Organization Award (3 times). The unit amassed over 28,400 community service hours, with a cadet community service hours average of 11 hours per semester.
Chief Ellis Clark has been teaching at Bob Jones High School since 2008, immediately following his retirement as a Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, after serving for 30 years. His duties included maintenance and operation of aircraft communication, navigation, computers, radar, flight control, and weapon delivery systems on fighter aircraft.
Chief Clark was an Air Education Training Command Master Instructor, where he instructed on maintenance and repair of several air frames for 13 years and received his Occupational Instructor Certification.
Chief Clark served at several deployed locations such as Al Jabar Air Base Kuwait, Ali Al Salem Air Base Kuwait, Camp Doha Kuwait, and lastly, served at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arabic Emirates. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with six clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with three clusters. He also earned distinction as a firearms Marksman. Chief Clark coaches the Archery, Drill, Honor Guard, and Marksmanship Teams.
Major Melissa Lacey entered the U.S. Air Force in November 1987, as an enlisted member. She served eight years and enrolled in Air Force ROTC in 1996, while completing her master’s degree through Troy State University in Montgomery. She received a commission as an officer in 1997, and has served throughout the United States and Guam. She served as a computer systems analyst, Director of Operations, as command squadron commander, as airlift operations officer and taught Air Force ROTC at Alabama State University.
Upon retirement from the Air Force, she worked as a senior business analyst and computer systems trainer for the Missile Defense Agency, as well as a training consultant for NASA – Marshall Space Flight Center. She completed her doctorate of philosophy degree in Organizational Behavior in 2013, with a certification in Adult Education.
Dr. Lacey is in her 6th year of teaching Air Force Junior ROTC, where she currently serves as the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor at Bob Jones High School. She has served two terms on the Alabama Department of Education Career Tech Education Board as the Air Force JROTC Director.