History of US Wings
Culled from man’s wild, pioneer yearnings. Crafted from supple, earthy leather. Classic and real as the people who wear them. This is the story of U.S. Wings authentic aviator flight jackets, and the people who bring them to you.
A Military-Inspired History
If you thought U.S. Wings jackets came from some New York fashion designer’s drawing, think again. U.S. Wings is the only official licensee for Flying Tigers-brand apparel and other government-issue aviator jackets. The company and its product are wearable symbols of free-flying American pride. A retired U.S. Army man, Sgt. David Hack (CEO of US Wings) has partnered with his wife Lani Hack (President of US Wings) since 1986. Forerunners in marketing, the couple tossed aside mail order marketing and took to the web early. They were one of the first brave web marketers in the country. What inspired them? Call it a great marriage between military bravado and confidence in a classic, authentic product.
USWings.com is the culmination of Sarge and Lani’s lifelong love, respect, and association with the US Military. Together, they have grown US Wings into a name you can trust. The Sarge’s esteemed word is behind each product, born from the wild blue yonder itself.
Where Are We?
The US Wings “Crew”
US Wings (i.e., SFC David D. Hack) is an official Defense Logistics Agency supplier and a supplier to US military and government agencies. The following information is publicly available and backed by official records. Certain individuals, forums & groups have been spreading malicious misinformation and fraudulent photoshopped photos & files, but the following is a matter of official record…
Meet Sgt. David Hack
“Hello! Over.” Those are likely to be the first words you hear from Sgt. David Hack. Once a military man, always a military man, deep down into the ethical and moral fiber. To know him is to know honesty, integrity and honor. His family also has military roots: his father served in WWII and his brother Lloyd, who was lost tragically, was an aviator. Every day, without fail, the Sarge honors the memory of this man (“a man’s man”) who was not only his brother, but his best friend, as well.
Sarge joined the US Coast Guard in 1957 and served for four years: Ocean Station Victor USCGC Chautauqua (WHEC-41/NRUD) ’57-’58; USCGC Kukui (WAK-186) Hawaii ’58; Wake Island Loran Station ’58-’59; USCG Station Cape May ’59-’60; CG Stations, Shore Units ’59; USCGC Sumac (WLR-311) ’60; Marine Safety Office Saint Louis MO ’60-’61.
In 1964, Sgt. Hack enlisted in the Army volunteering for Ranger Training. He processed through the recruiter in Phoenix, AZ and then Fort Ord, CA to the Ranger Department at Fort Benning, GA in 1965, fully believing he was on track for Ranger School training. Based on his prior service in the Coast Guard, he was a natural fit for the cadre in the Ranger School’s amphibious phase of Ranger jungle training and he was immediately assigned to serve as a Harbor Craft Boatswain at the Ranger Department’s camp at Eglin Air Force Base, FL while waiting for his Ranger Class start date.
For 21 days a month for 2-years, while assigned to the Ranger Department, he supported over 20 Ranger School training cycles, always believing that his own start date would come. However, his own desire to attend Ranger Training took second place to the needs of the Army and Sgt. Hack loyally served on the Ranger Training Cadre preparing young Army Soldiers and officers for combat in Vietnam. Wearing the Ranger Black Beret for two years, and being part of Ranger training for two years, left a lasting personal and professional impact on Sgt. Hack.
Although during his 24-months supporting Ranger training he did not complete the two-month Ranger training program, and he never wore a Ranger Tab, subsequent assignment officers and leaders reviewing his assignments would recurrently see his assignment to 1st Ranger Company, 1st Student Battalion, the Student Brigade, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA and carefully manage his assignments to make best use of his talent and experience. Although Sarge regrets that he never got his Ranger class date and the opportunity to earn his Ranger Tab, he realizes the importance of his amphibious training responsibilities and is very proud of his 2-years of duty with the Ranger Training Brigade.
He later joined the 1st Infantry Division and was serving as a sergeant with the Big Red One in Lai Khe, Vietnam in 1968 when he was awarded the Purple Heart for combat injuries that ultimately ended his military career. After a full year in the hospital and three years on medical hold, Sarge was honorably retired from the US Army in 1973 (due to permanent disability from combat wounds received in Vietnam) after being promoted from SSG E-6 to SFC E-7* (note: a Sergeant First Class, SFC or E-7, is typically a “Platoon Sergeant,” second in charge of about 35 soldiers).
Before retiring, Sarge was an Army recruiter in Ohio and won the title of the nation’s Number One Recruiter from 1969-1973, using a customized Army jeep and a custom-painted Corvette as a recruiting tool.
Today, it is very common to see our Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines driving highly custom-painted vehicles to help with their recruiting. Major sponsorships of NASCAR Racing, drag racing and custom-painted military vehicles owe their start to SFC David D. Hack, US Army (ret).
Challenged with recruiting young men and women for the Army during the height of the Vietnam War would seem to be an insurmountable task, but not for Sergeant Hack. He found creative ways to break down the communication barrier. At a time when “Don’t trust anyone over 30, especially an Army recruiter” was the gospel, he was able to open up a dialog using his vehicles as a common bond.
Venturing from the security of a recruiter’s office in a 1960 Corvette, Uncle Sam painted on the hood and followed by a US Army jeep painted red, white & blue with chrome rims, Sgt. Hack visited fairs, schools, drag races, oval tracks, motorcycle races and any other place with crowds. Thousands of potential recruits walked away with a t-shirt featuring “Sgt. Hack Wants You for US Army”, paid for out of his own pocket, a far cry from the major sponsors that exist today.
Sgt. Hack began relationships with major drag racing associations, the NHRA and the AHRA, who named him the Honorary Drag Racer of the Year in 1972, as well as Goodyear, Cragar Wheels, Borg Warner, Hurst, and PPG, setting the stage for today’s military.
In fact, Sgt. Hack’s jeep is on display in the Pratt Museum in Fort Campbell KY, the home of the 101st ABN Division, because Sgt. Hack was the Recruiter of Choice for the 101st Airborne and the Rangers. Sgt. Hack’s jeep is one of only two jeeps to ever be enshrined in a US Military Museum, the other belonging to Gen. George S. Patton (whose jeep is on display at Fort Knox, KY). Since being acquired by the museum, Sarge’s jeep has only been driven once… by Gen. William Westmoreland, who drove it in a parade. To see a larger image of Sarge’s jeep (the “Hackmobile”) and to read the story behind it, click on the jeep or click here. And check out an article from 1971 about the artist responsible for the custom Corvette.
You can also read more about Sgt. Hack in an article featuring a man Sarge served under, Maj. Gen. Keith Ware. Sarge went on to a career in law enforcement and was a former Chief of Police of Sebring, Ohio.
*Sgt. Hack’s military records are on file with The National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Ave, St. Louis MO, 63132-5100. View an Akron Beacon Journal article regarding Sarge’s military records.
Through the years, Sarge has continued close military ties. He serves in many organizations and military boards, including the VFW, the National Coalition of the Veterans of the Vietnam War, and was one of the four members of the Military Coalition for then-President George H.W. Bush (along with Col. Bud Day, Maj. Gen. Jim Dosher, and Jack Terberville). And, after 5 years of effort, he was responsible for the commemorative Audie Murphy postage stamp, which was released in 2000. The synergy Hack has created between business and military experience has earned U.S. Wings prestigious billing in several famous films, and notoriety as the undisputed leader in vintage-styled leather. As an authority on aviation flight gear, Sarge is a sought-after consultant to the movie industry.
“I have a real love for this business. It’s the nostalgia of old military memories, and the people that I come in contact with from all walks of life—from guy who can barely afford that first jacket to the owner of the airline company. Everybody’s on the same level.”—Sgt. David Hack
Sgt. Hack is a proud member of a number of protective services and military associations:
- 101st Airborne Div. Life Member #LM3100
- First Infantry Division
- Purple Heart Association
- 101st ABN Division
- Member Ohio Assoc. of Chiefs of Police
With the considerable resources of US Wings, Sarge is also active in many humanitarian efforts, including hurricane disaster relief assistance. US Wings provided specialty equipment, food, clothing and boots to the four dozen officers of the Akron PD and Summit County Sheriff’s Department who were deployed to Louisiana in 2005 to assist with relief efforts, ensuring that they were properly equipped to do the job. In recognition of Sarge’s efforts and assistance, US Wings received letters of appreciation from the Summit County Sheriff and the Akron PD (click to view), among many others.
Meet Lani Hack and the Kids
Leave it to a woman to bring something so luxuriously cosmopolitan to the general shopping public. Lani dreamed up the idea, sure that her military career man would be a perfect salesman for the product. After all, doesn’t everyone love a man in “uniform”? Lani had wanted to become a pharmacist, having studied at college in Pennsylvania. But when she met Sgt. Hack, she knew there had to be something the couple could do to tie back to his military roots. Today Lani and Dave have three children — daughter Brittany, son Brenton, and daughter Brooke — who are literally the major stockholders and owners of the business. Lani is president and “makes all the decisions,” Hack says, regarding this web site, marketing strategies, buying and more.