Friday, 22 April 2011 00:00
“Boots on the Ground.” That’s what stood out when anyone read Paul Wigdzinski’s email announcing he was coming home on break. For most alumni it would be an odd way to say you are on break from college and coming home to visit. However, Wigdzinski is not your ordinary alumni.
As a captain and All County member of the Island Trees Lacrosse team, Wigdzinski had many choices where to continue his lacrosse career. He decided to accept an invitation to play at the United States Military Academy at West Point. After playing lacrosse for five years and spending countless hours in class and training over the summers, 1st Lt Paul Wigdzinski graduated from West Point in 2008.
1st Lt Wigdzinski is currently serving as Aide-de-Camp for Major General Gary Patton - Deputy Commander Army- NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. So when Wigdzinski spoke of “boots on the ground,” it meant that from the time his feet touched the ground in Atlanta he would have 15 days on American soil to see his family, visit his friends, and stop by Island Trees.
Recently, Wigdzinski and his “boots” stopped by Island Trees High School to share some of his experiences and answer questions about his current assignment.
He told students, “I usually wake up around 6 a.m. and come into the office about 30 minutes before the General gets here so I can prep his morning folder. Every morning he goes to a video teleconference with General Petraeus and other General level leaders from across Afghanistan, so I make sure he is fully prepared for that meeting and what might get covered in it.
“After that we either go to meetings on post all day with the commanding general or we travel. If we travel, it will be to one of our local training sights to meet with Afghan leadership and coalition mentors that run the sites and make sure everything is going as reported.
“Most of the time we drive through Kabul, but sometimes I’ll arrange for helicopters. We also meet with the Afghan Minister of Defense, Chief of General Staff, and the rest of the staff at the Ministry of Defense on a weekly basis, which means we spend a lot of time over at the Ministry of Defense.
“All in all, I am basically responsible for keeping the General on schedule, informed and prepared for all engagements and making sure security is maintained at all times.”
Through conversations with students, Wigdzinski enlightened students to the fact that Afghanistan is unlike anything that they could imagine. The unprecedented poverty and illiteracy is a major stumbling block to improving the situation in that country.
In a few short months, Lt Wigdzinski will be promoted to captain and his “boots” are scheduled to return home again around June 28.