An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Lt. Col. Tim Curry '94 receives Lakeside's 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award
Lt. Col. Tim Curry '94 receives Lakeside's 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

A recording of the citation and assembly presentation is available here

The 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Lt. Col. Tim Curry '94 at the Upper School assembly on Feb. 15. The following citation was read aloud at the Upper School assembly and highlights his courage and sacrifice. Curry then shared his story with students, walking them through his life and the growth of his worldview as he left Seattle, joined the military, served in combat, and started a family. He answered questions from students about his experience in combat, the future of women in the armed forces, and changes in military technology during his service. Curry was previously featured in the fall 2015 edition of Lakeside Magazine; the article is available here

Lt. Col. Tim Curry '94
Distinguished Alumni Award 2019

"You have to hang in there when things get tough." The advice that the mother of Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Curry '94 gave him during the challenging early days at Lakeside would become his personal mantra.

It would see him through difficult times at the U.S. Air Force Academy, when a back injury threatened a promising college football career, and worsening astigmatism meant he needed special permission to engage in his other love: flying aircraft. His mother's words would stay with him through a decorated 20-year career in the U.S. Air Force that spanned three combat tours, where Curry evaded the enemy as a fighter pilot and mourned the loss of courageous comrades and friends. And her advice would inspire him as commander of a squadron of 220 airmen, leading them to greatness, while making critical decisions about their lives.

Today, Curry is an executive assistant to Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the highest-ranking airman and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The 20 medals on Curry's chest denote two decades in service to this country: the Presidential Unit citation, the NATO medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medals, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, among others.

Ask Curry what provoked his early interest in flying and he'll recount a story his mother tells – about how at age 5 he would lie on his back on a small roof in the backyard of their Central Area home watching airplanes flying overhead.

That was before the Air Force, before the academy, before Lakeside, where he enrolled as a 7th grader and where teachers and mentors and a dedicated football coach urged him to reach beyond the outer limits of his potential. When he expressed an interest in seemingly divergent pursuits of football and aviation, one of them suggested, "At the Air Force Academy you can play football."

So that's what he did. He was an all-American at the academy and, after graduation, when he wasn't drafted to play professionally, he began an eight-year commitment in the Air Force. Curry accumulated more than 2,300 flying hours with combat experience in four major weapons systems: F-16 Vipers, MQ-9 Reapers, MQ-1B Predators, and the RQ-170 Blackbird.

The Air Force, Curry says, values and rewards ongoing education and has allowed him to pursue three diverse master's degrees -- in pastoral counseling, strategic intelligence, and air and space studies.

The military, he says, needs people with his skills "who understand what it means not to be in a rush to go to war. I think it's really important to have leaders with 20, 30, 40 years of diverse career experience who can give you the military perspective of 'this is how we can do it,' but also not have a problem with pushing back a little with respect to whether or not we should do it. So often people look at the military and think, 'Well, they're only following orders.' But you still have to follow smart orders. And orders that are lawful. And you also should consider whether what you're doing is the right thing to do. I think I will always bring that perspective going forward."

For his unwavering courage and sacrifice, and for putting service to this country before self, the Lakeside/St. Nicholas Alumni Association is proud to honor Lt. Col. Tim Curry '94 with the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.