Coming full circle


By Mike Ullery

For Miami Valley Today

PIQUA — Friday’s 162nd Piqua High School (PHS) Commencement ceremony marked the beginning … hence, commencement … for the Piqua High School Class of 2024.

The evening was also a significant milestone for the ceremony’s guest speaker.

Vice Admiral James P. (Phil) Wisecup stood at the podium to deliver remarks to students and guests at Alexander Stadium/Purk Field on Friday, May 24.

As the three-star admiral waited to join the PHS Class of 2024 on the field, he recalled this was actually a long-awaited homecoming for him.

Wisecup served a long and distinguished career in the United States Navy, more than 35 years of service to our Nation. But it all began in Piqua.

“I went to kindergarten at Favorite Hill,” said Wisecup, “My dad was a teacher here.”

His father, James, taught at Springcreek School before becoming principal at Nicklin Ave. School.

Following several career moves to other school districts, the elder Wisecup moved his family back to Piqua in the late 1960s where he became Piqua City Schools superintendent.

The timing of the move put young Phil back in the school system where he began. “I was able to go to high school, all in one place,” reflected Wisecup, “which was a first for me because we moved around quite a bit.”

Upon graduation as a member of Piqua Central High School Class of 1973, Wisecup received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was the last military academy appointment by Congressman William McCulloch,

“Think about this,” said Wisecup, “I was appointed (by McCulloch) in 1973 and I was on active duty until 2013. So, his legacy went on almost 40 years. and that was from just his last person.”

The admiral said that those types of events show just how important the decisions made by congressmen really are.

“I was a sea-going Naval Officer,” said Wisecup proudly, “I was skipper (commanding officer) of a destroyer, a squadron commander, and eventually a Strike Group Commander on the USS Ronald Reagan.”

Wisecup’s career put him in the middle of Operation Desert Storm and several other conflicts over the years.

The Piqua native’s career finally brought him back to Washington, D.C. where he was assigned as Inspector General for the United States Navy. His responsibilities included being in charge of the White House Situation Room.

It was from there, that he retired following 36 years of active duty.

Wisecup is married. He and his wife, Anne, have five grown children and seven grandchildren. He and Anne spend their time today visiting their grandchildren and watching them grow.

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