02/04/07 — GHS graduate promoted to brigadier general

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GHS graduate promoted to brigadier general

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 4, 2007 2:02 AM

A Goldsboro High School graduate was promoted to brigadier general in the United States Army last month.

Brig. Gen. Al Aycock, a 26-year Army veteran, received his promotion at a ceremony at Fort Bragg.

Aycock, a 1974 Goldsboro High School graduate, is stationed in South Korea, where he currently serves as director of the Installation Management Command Korea Region, a post he has held since August.

Local residents and friends said the news of Aycock's promotion came as no surprise.

Gerald Whisenhunt, who coached Aycock on the Goldsboro High football team, said the young Aycock's drive to succeed was evident on the field and off.

"Al was not an exceptionally athletically talented young man, but he made up for it in sheer determination and his attitude," Whisenhunt said.

Aycock, who was born in Wilson, started his Army career by graduating from West Point in 1978. He has spent most of his years in the Army serving in the Special Forces and has held numerous positions with the 82nd Airborne, the 5th Special Forces Group, the Pentagon's Counter-Narcotics Operations Division and as the aide-de-camp for the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

His most recent position before shipping off to South Korea was as garrison commander at Fort Bragg, a position he took over in 2003.

His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, Special Forces Tab, Joint Staff Identification Badge, Military Freefall Parachutist Badge and Master Parachutist Badge.

Aycock was one of 35 Army colonels recommended for promotion last year by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

On Jan. 4, Aycock flew to Fort Bragg from South Korea to receive his brigadier general's star.

Friends recalled that while Aycock's father, a career Special Forces soldier, was stationed at different posts around the world, he and his brother, Stephen, were being brought up by his grandmother in Goldsboro.

Roland Hales said his son and Aycock were good friends as youths and that the general-to-be spent a lot of evenings at his home.

"It's always like he's another one of the family," Hales said.

Aycock, an Eagle Scout, was involved in many school activities and was a natural leader, friends recalled.

Whisenhunt said he remembered a Friday night football game in Greenville that the young Aycock had trouble arriving by kickoff because of a field trip he had to attend. Whisenhunt said he told Aycock to take his football uniform along with him and that if he didn't make it back to Goldsboro in time to make the bus trip that he possibly could get another ride to the game.

"When it got close to game time, I was turning my head around every few minutes looking for him," Whisenhunt said.

Just before the coin flip, Whisenhunt said he spotted a young man in football gear scaling a nearby fence to get to the field. It was Aycock.

Hales said Aycock had always wanted to be in the military, and to be a leader.

"He made up his mind early in life on what he wanted to do and he did it," Hales said.

Aycock is the son of Charles and Anne Aycock of Holden Beach. He and his wife, Sue, have two children, Alan, 24, and Jennifer, 20.