The President of the United States has proclaimed May as National Military Appreciation Month to remind us all of the important sacrifices the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces have made to defend our nation’s freedom. That includes all branches of the services, the National Guard and Reserves, plus retirees, veterans, and all of their families – well over 90 million Americans who have sacrificed to safeguard our nation for more than 230 years.
At BAE Systems, National Military Appreciation Month has special meaning, as many of our employees are veterans who joined us after serving. Several are reservists who remain ready to answer the call to return to duty. Many of these vets continue to support the military’s daily operations as contractors. Throughout the month of May, we will be highlighting the stories of individual BAE Systems employee veterans, as they share how they plan to Remember, Honor, and Support their fellow service members this month. Today, we are profiling Patrick Finch, a Test Engineer, within our Intelligence and Security Sector’s GEOINT-ISR business. Finch, a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has a deeply rooted connection to military service. His father was career Navy (nearly 20 years) and served as an electronic warfare specialist. Two of his uncles served in the Navy and two others served in the Air Force. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Finch has traced the military service of more than two dozen family members all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
As a veteran yourself, we thank you for your service. Can you share a bit about your family’s extensive history of military service?
My family has defended this country for more than 200 years. I have at least five known relatives from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey who served in the Revolutionary War, including John Phillps, a distant relative who suffered bayonet wounds at Saratoga. I also know of five relatives who served in the Union Army during the Civil War. That list includes, Charles Finch, my great grandfather’s uncle who was wounded by a mini ball at the Battle of Gettysburg. His name is among others inscribed on the monument for the various Pennsylvania units that fought for the Union at Gettysburg. I know of three family members who served in World War I, including my great grandfather’s brother, Will Schweser, who served in the U.S. Army and was stationed at the U.S./Mexico border to defend it from Poncho Villa’s intrusions. On a side note, my stepmother’s grandfather fought for Poncho Villa, so my own relatives may have fired at each other! My great uncle, Polo Garcia, enlisted in the Army and was one of five known-relatives who served in World War II. Garcia saw action in North Africa, on D-Day, and in Europe. I also had a great uncle that served in the Korean War. My father, and a couple of my uncles, served in various branches during the Vietnam War. I started in the Air Force as an Airman Basic and left a Captain. During that time, I served in Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. And today, my son, Sean, continues our family legacy serving in the U.S. navy on an Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
Were you familiar with BAE Systems products and services, when you were in the military?
I knew about company because of its Geospatial eXploitation Products , like SOCET SET. I also knew BAE Systems made a number of the aerospace components for various military aircraft.
How does it feel to know your work is continuing to support our troops today?
I get satisfaction out of knowing my work helps to get critical intelligence products into the hands of the decision makers that need them. It’s an honor to know that in a very small and indirect way, my work, and that of my co-workers, is helping to preserve and protect the U.S. Constitution by aiding those who defend it directly, every day.
What does National Military Appreciation Month mean to you?
It’s a chance to show those who are actively defending our rights and freedom that we appreciate their sacrifice and honor their commitment.
How do you plan to Remember, Honor or Support the military this month?
It’s no different than every other month of the year – through support and programs of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Military Officer’s Association of America. I make it a point to always shake the hands of, and express my thanks to, those I see in uniform at the airport and other venues. I also pray for their safe return to their families. My family and I will visit the small, local graveyard near our home this Memorial Day. The Boy Scouts usually perform a ceremony their honoring the veterans buried in that cemetery.
If you could send one message to every military member, what would it be?
Words are not enough, but it would be: “Thank you, your sacrifice is appreciated.”
National Military Appreciation Month of May recognizes all military personnel who have served throughout our history, and those who are now serving in uniform. The month includes a number of special days, to include: Loyalty Day (May 1), Public Service Recognition Week (May 5-10), Victory in Europe Day (May 8), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (May 10), Armed Forces Day (May 18), and Memorial Day (May 27).
For additional information about National Military Appreciation Month, visit www.nmam.org.