Military Biography – LTC Paul E. Gillette Sr.
Paul Gillette Sr. started his career in the Military in the 7th grade when he began attending Missouri Military Academy, an all-male Military College Prep School. He graduated as C Company Commander in 1970 with a four year ROTC scholarship. Paul then entered the ROTC program at Northeast Missouri State University graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1974 with the US Army Medical Service Corps.
Paul was commissioned as a 2nd LT attending the Medical Service Corps Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Huston TX. He was then assignedd as a med platoon leader 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment at Ft. Bliss, TX.
At his next duty station, Paul was assigned to Rotary Wing Flight School in October of 1975 at Ft Rucker, AL. He flew Medivac and Crash Rescue for Ft Rucker and the Aviation School for 4 years with the Flat Iron Unit. While in the unit he was the Pilot in Command and the Aviation Safety Officer. Paul was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in August of 1976, and then to Captain in August of 1978.
In May of 1979, Paul’s duty station was in Korea where he joined the 1st Platoon of the 377th Paramedical Evacuation Company. There he commanded 6 aircraft and crew. His unit was responsible for Medivac coverage on the DMZ for the 2nd infantry division and the Republic Of Korea’s Army.
Returning to the US in June of 1980, Paul went back to Ft Sam Huston TX for the Officer Advanced Course. Upon Completion he returned to the Aviation School at Ft. Rucker where he completed the Flight Instructor Course serving as a Flight Instructor and Flight Command for a staff of 15 instructors and 45 flight students.
In September of 1982 Paul took a duty station with the 571st Areo-Medical Evacuation detachment at Ft. Carson, CO where he served as Flight Operations Officer and Instructor Pilot.
In July of 1986 Paul became the Commander of the 247th Medical Detachment in Ft. Irwin CA where he was promote to MAJ. During his duty there, Paul’s unit was the first to transition from the from the Huey UH-1V to the Blackhawk UH-60A.
With his combined experiences and knowledge of the Blackhawk, Paul was chosen to attend Long Term Civilian Training at Central Missouri State University receiving a Master’s Degree in Aviation Safety, a Master’s in Safety Management, and also achieving Command and General Staff College for the Army.
In 1990 Paul went to St. Louis, MO where he worked with the Blackhawk Project Manager’s Office as the Military Liaison to Sikorsky and Areo-Methods for the US Army Medical Department. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1992.
During his time in St. Louis Paul was part of the civilian/military that developed the modern day Blackhawk Medivac that is in use today. His contribution to the development of this next generation helicopter helped to save the lives of countless US Service Members in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After 20 years of service to the US Army, Paul retired in September of 1994 Paul then decided to return to Missouri Military Academy to groom the next generation of world leaders. He held positions to include: Commandant of the middle school, Senior Army instructor, Alumni Representative, and Advancement Director. Retiring again in May 2016. All male College Prep school.
Tribute from his wife Lawanah
Paul and I met and fell in love our when I was a Junior in High School. As we graduated from college as a young married couple, I knew both of us were committing to his career in the U.S. Army as a Medivac pilot. We frequently joked he got the first 20 years and I would get the next 20 years. I also always remained one rank above him no matter what level he was promoted to.
It was a challenge being a military family, but I am most proud of the role my husband played in protecting lives. He was frequently assigned to fly critically ill civilian children. Each time the flight was complete he would give the child the wings off his hat. Paul worried about every one of those kids, wondering how they fared.
In the last four years of his active duty he was assigned as a consultant for the conversion of the UH-60 Blackhawk to an ambulatory vehicle to replace the Huey. Paul worked four years on this project and saw it to completion. Through his work as a pilot and as a consultant he helped to protect thousands of lives of American citizens and soldiers.
I’m so proud to be the wife of such an exceptional man and soldier.
Tribute from his children Shawnna and Bert
Shawnna: A single word cannot express the many emotions when thinking of my dad and his Army career as a Medivac pilot, but a few might come close…
In preschool, I ran outside at the sound of every helicopter and waved at it confidently.
In middle school, I appropriated his flight jacket and wore it proudly.
In college, I appropriated his flight suit for Halloween…and wore it fondly.
As an adult, I look back at all of my far-flung friends and experiences gratefully.
Bert: Since I can remember my dad was my hero. From trying to part my hair like his, to wanting underwear with helicopters on them for my birthday, I have always wanted to be like dad.
I swell with pride when I tell about his accomplishments as a soldier. As a special tribute I participated in a 120 mile ride with World TEAM Sports carrying my RePatriot Flag the whole way. By chance, or divinity, I ended up on a team with 7 veterans who were flight medics on Blackhawk crews, or had been rescued by one. At the end of the ride, the veterans on my team took seriously the duty of folding my fathers flag to thank him for his duty. It now hangs on the wall of his office.