“I’ve been handed the moniker of a hero. And as I’ve stated a couple of times already, I feel more as a protector than I do a hero because I did lose two real good friends,” said Jack Wilson after receiving the Governor’s Medal of Courage on Monday morning.
A few weeks ago on the last Sunday of 2019, Wilson stopped a gunman from killing more congregants at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement by pulling out his handgun within seconds and firing a single shot to bring down the assailant who killed two deacons, Tony Wallace and Rich White.
“We thank God for putting Jack Wilson in that church that day to bring the attack to an end and to prevent the loss of further life,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “Only God knows who is alive today because of Jack Wilson. What we do know is that so many lives were saved because of Jack Wilson’s quick action, his calmness under pressure, and above all else, his courage and his willingness to risk his own life to save the lives of others.”
Wilson is the head of the volunteer security team at his church, has owned a firearm training business, and is a current TCOLE and LTC instructor. He is also a current candidate for county commissioner in Hood County’s third precinct.
For his heroic actions, Abbott awarded Wilson the Governor’s Medal of Courage.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, it is “the highest award given to civilians by the Governor.”
At the ceremony on Monday, Abbott also presented a Texas flag that had been flown over the state capitol to Britt Farmer, the head pastor of West Freeway Church of Christ.
“There is a serenity and calmness about the way that you responded to this catastrophe that’s almost unimaginable,” Abbott said to the pastor. “God empowered you with the strength that you needed to be able to instill calm and resolve in your congregants and God continues to work through you to this very day …. And I can assure you, that your family, your congregation, your friends, and the families of those who’ve lost a loved one are stronger, better, and happier because of you.”
Turning toward Wilson, Abbott said, “Jack, I know that you have been reluctant to accept the label of being called a hero,” said Abbott. “But that is exactly who you are. You are a hero to everybody in the church that day. You are a hero to the people of Texas. You put your life on the line to ensure others would live. That is the hallmark of heroism and of courage, and it’s my honor to present to you the Governor’s Medal of Courage.”
Taking off his cowboy hat, Wilson leaned over as Abbott slipped the medal around his neck.
On the front was the seal of the state of Texas and on the back, it read: “The Governor’s Medal of Courage, awarded to William Jack Wilson, January 13, 2020.”
Wilson thanked the governor and state Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), and emphasized the role his family played — including those in the church, many of whom he says he has known for over fifty years.
“I’ve received this, and I appreciate it, but it is a family thing,” said Wilson. “That’s the way we’ve raised our children and hopefully our grandchildren see that — as it being about family.”
He also asked for continued prayers for the church community as it recovers from the attack.
“The whole congregation in that auditorium that day were witness to the whole events that went down,” said Wilson. “My prayer is for them and their, their comfort … and also for the families of Richard and Tony, and what they’re dealing with.”
“When events arise, you’re gonna do one of two things,” Wilson added. “You’re either going to step up and do what’s right, or walk away. And I’m not one to walk away, not from this or anything else.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.