By Mr. Allen Shaw (Wainwright)February 28, 2014
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (February 28, 2014) - Fairbanks is often referred to as a military town. The Interior Alaska communities celebrate those who serve and support Soldiers and family members during their tours of duty here by making them feel at home. One local couple has taken that hospitality to whole new level for more than 30 years.
Charles (Chick) and Carolyne Wallace left Texas in 1972 to accept positions with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Back then," Carolyn said, "before the pipeline, any State agency (like UAF) would pay your way here and if you stayed for three years, they'd pay your way back. If you chose not to stay (the three years), you were on your own." The Wallace family liked it so much, they never left.
"It's a wonderful place and has been fabulous for our family. Our involvement with the community and the military has been so rewarding in so many different ways. I would not want to live anywhere else in the world," she said. "I do like to go out (of Alaska) occasionally and visit, but two weeks pushes the envelope."
In addition to being a long-time Fairbanks realtor, Chick Wallace is the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army in Interior Alaska. "I've been told it's the civilian equivalent to a three-star general," he said and down-plays the position, "I am just a liaison between the community and the Department of the Army."
Army Regulation 1-15 states the CASA's role is to "provide individual advice to the secretary of the Army, the chief of staff, Army and commanders at all levels on public sentiment toward the Army," and to "disseminate information about the Army's objectives, roles, requirements and major programs to the public through public speeches, personal contact and other means."
The regulation further solidifies the importance of the position, stating a CASA candidate has to be a citizen of "outstanding character, integrity and patriotism," must have a deep interest in Army affairs, be a leader in community affairs and be in a position of sufficient stature to "disseminate information about the Army to a broad cross section of the public and to other prominent citizens in the area."
Bill Brophy, former United States Army Alaska deputy commanding officer and current vice president of Usibelli Coal, said, "I don't think you can find a more patriotic couple. Chick and Carolyne have poured their hearts into everything good for Soldiers and their Families. We are blessed in Alaska to have Mr. Wallace serve as the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army."
Chick Wallace is not one to simply rest on the prestige of the position. "I am here to facilitate communication," he said. "I don't wield that much power but I often know who to call to get a problem resolved." Brophy said Wallace has dedicated unwaveringly his time, talent and energy, on many occasions at his own expense toward making life better for our Alaska-based Soldiers. "He is certainly a powerful combat multiplier for our Army and the right person, at the right time, to serve as CASA for (Interior) Alaska."
From his office in Washington D.C., Jim Lovelace, former USARAK commanding general and current vice president of L3 Communications, said, "You're not going to find two finer people in this world. I enjoyed (as CG) and continue to enjoy their friendship. I just want Soldiers and Family members in Alaska to know how fortunate they are to have Chick and Carolyne and that you could not have anyone better to represent their interests."
The Wallaces enjoy entertaining and often host events for military leaders and Family members, developing and maintaining lasting friendships whether they have remained in the community or have moved on. Although he considers this type of interaction an honor, he said, "What is absolutely fantastic is talking to young Soldiers. They are absolutely wonderful. I'd like to take every one of them home with me and give them a good family meal."
"Rest assured Chick will be at every event that heralds the military and close by at his side and many times out front will be Carolyne dressed in red, white and blue, inside and out," Brophy said.
Over the years the Wallaces have assisted Family members with transportation and accommodation issues. Carolyne Wallace is also well-versed at picking up the phone to get things done and "make things right." Chick Wallace said his wife was extremely active during deployments and redeployments helping find places for people to stay, and especially in resolving transportation issues.
Chick Wallace was selected as CASA in 1997, after being the president of the Polar Bear chapter of the Association of the United States Army, a position he said he won because no one else was available to do the job.
"Chick and Carolyne are equally comfortable talking with a young new Soldier and Family or collaborating with top-notch four-star generals. Chick and Carolyne Wallace have established a wonderful legacy," Brophy said.
"When you talk about heroes," said Lovelace, "you should find a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace next to the definition. They are special people, they are pure of heart, they are always looking for ways to help people and they do it in exhausting ways."
The Wallace's continue to support service members and their Families every day. For them it is not only a mission, it's a way of life. They believe in the Army and have led many, including their own children and grandchildren, to believe just how special it is.
Carolyne Wallace said, "There is no experience like it. Nothing will better prepare you for living in the real world than the Army."
"I just want our military to get the credit they deserve," Chick Wallace said. "It's a good life, but it's a tough life, especially for young Soldiers and family members. I've never met a Soldier that said the Army wasn't taking care of them and I hope they can continue to say the same thing about the Fairbanks community."