Searcher Spotlight: Steve Wilson

Some team members have goals such as attaining Type 1 status, becoming efficient navigators or mastering USAR skills. Steve Wilson, while interested in achieving those goals, also has another, perhaps less-lofty (but no less important) goal: to not be considered “a pain in the ass” by the SAR Command Staff.

It was during his first SAR year, in 2009, that Steve heard himself described that way, and he admits to being involved in a few “incidents” during that time. His most memorable one happened during Advanced Land Navigation, and it involved a bull, a locked gate and a lack of battery power.

The short version is that Steve was running out of time to return to the rally point, so he opted for a short cut. That’s when he met the bull, to whom he looked better than a red flag. In his haste to avoid being gored, he rerouted to his car in the parking lot, but the gate to the road to the rally point was locked.

Meanwhile, at the rally point, the rest of the team was trying to reach Steve on the radio without luck. (All three of his battery packs were too weak to transmit.) The result was what all SAR team members most dread – Steve became the object of a search.

“I could hear the team calling for me on the radio and starting to initiate a search for me.  I sent a text message to the person in charge and drove around the parking lot hoping to hit a cell signal. Listening to the stages building for a search for me, it was the hardest thing for me to not start hiking to the rally point,” Steve says. “Far more than UNO, that experience taught me how hard it is for the missing person to stay in one place, and the guilty feelings I had about a search being called out on my behalf.”

Nonetheless, undaunted on his path toward Type 1, Steve passed Advanced Land Nav the next year. He hopes to continue to be snow-and-ice certified eventually, since he has a lot of experience with skiing steep terrain and surviving cold and fierce weather in Michigan.

Steve is a transplant from the Midwest, originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and segued his education and early career training into a job with Chevron, where he has worked in IT for 30 years.

For most of that time, he lived in Concord, but currently he lives in Alamo with his girlfriend and a cat on loan from his girlfriend’s daughter. Besides skiing, Steve enjoys golf and hiking.  Steve is a world traveler who has ventured to New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond, and has visited all the states in the U.S.

It was a personal loss that brought Steve to the CoCoSAR team. In 2007, he lost his wife to cancer and turned his grief to a constructive cause.

“I thought, what better thing to do than contribute to a team with the motto ‘That others may live’,” Steve says. “Having gone through the unexpected loss of a loved one, I wanted to contribute to a team that tries to prevent that from happening to other people.”