US Wings: A Salute to great Service
by Kathleen Kochanski, Akron Beacon Journal advertising writer
As an authorized U.S. military vendor, retired Sergeant First Class (SFC) David Hack of US Wings in Hudson sells merchandise to all five branches of the armed forces, Homeland Security, all other federal agencies and the civilian public. He does such a good job of it that military officials recommend him to the Australian and New Zealand air forces, which now number among his customers. To accommodate such a large customer base, one that literally circles the globe, Hack carries the biggest inventory of any authorized U.S. military vendor in the country.
US Wings is best known for beautifully crafted leather bomber jackets, deck jackets and peacoats (the latter being the store's best all-time seller). "The unisex peacoat has been in style since 1917," said Hack, emphasizing that US Wings carries the official made-in-the-USA peacoat, "often copied, but never duplicated," said Hack. US Wings in-store inventory also includes Nomex gloves, aviator sunglasses, flights suites, hats and parkas, all of them authorized military issue.
The one exception is the merchandise he carries for children, which is not military issue. It is, however made from the same fabrics and with the same quality. "We just downsize it," he said. Hack is proud that his well-made products are "something customers can pass down in their families or resell. The quality is there," he said. "This stuff lasts. It's the real deal."
Hack is the real deal, too. A Vietnam veteran, he was wounded twice in that conflict, returning home in 1968. After recuperating for a full year in a hospital, he worked for the military as a recruiter from 1969-1973. Rather than wait for potential recruits to come to him, he went to them in his Hackmobile, a decked out Army jeep he drove to fairs, festivals, sports events, drag races and other youth-oriented events. The Army later put that jeep on display in a military museum at Fort Campbell, KY. According to Hack, the only other jeep to be enshrined in a U.S. military museum belonged to General George S. Patton.
He still enjoys celebrity status today. Just a few months ago, he received a call from the director of all U.S. military museums to learn that his Hackmobile would be moved to the National Army Museum to the National Army Museum to be built in Washington, D. C., in 2014. On Nov. 7 2013, Jimmy Fallon on TV's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" wore a US Wings Texas Steerhide Legend jacket for an Indiana Jones skit. Even more impressive, Hack numbers the 41st and 43rd U.S. presidents - George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush - among his customers.
Britain's Prince Charles also wears a bomber jacket from US Wings, said Hack. In February 2014, Vanity Fair magazine, a pop culture publication at home with top-name stars such as George Clooney, Matt Damon and Nicole Kidman, will feature Hack and US Wings' products. The following month, Teen Vogue does the honors.
To Hack, however, the real celebrities are the new recruits he honors each years through a program called "Our Community Salutes."
"We reach out in Northeast Ohio to everyone who joined the armed forces that year," he said. "We recognize them individually for enlisting." Retired Lt. General Robert W. Wagner, former commanding general of Special Forces worldwide, joins him in that endeavor.
In the years that followed his retirement from the Army, Hack served in the Hudson Township Police Department and in the Summit County Sheriff's Department, ending his police career as the Sebring, Ohio chief of police. He is a Life Member of the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry Division, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. In 2011, he was formally presented with a Purple Heart, a Vietnam Service Medal, an Army Recruiter Badge and other honors at a ceremony held by Ohio Congressman Steven LaTourette.