FOLSOM — Assistant city attorney Steve Wang will exchange his signature white-collar dress shirts and suspenders for desert cammies on June 1, when leaves his legal duties for a 400-day tour in Afghanistan. Looking at his calendar, he said he’ll just miss the 2012 Folsom Pro Rodeo. “I’ll be back July 5.”
Capt. Wang, U.S. Army Reserve, will be an assistant inspector general with the Dept. of Army. He describes his duties as investigations and inspections.
Wang’s reserve unit is based at Moffett Airfield in Mountain View. He said most of his unit will be stationed in the United States, but three of them will be deployed to Afghanistan.
Wang has been in the U.S. Army Reserve for seven years. “I joined the Reserve when I was 33,” he said. “I almost needed an age waiver.” He explained his reason, “I have a debt to repay. I owe everything to this country. I’m a first-generation immigrant.”
He described how at age 12, living in Taipei, Taiwan, he went to apply for a visa to go to America. “There was this big blue-eyed blond man. He denied everyone else and I was scared when it was my turn. The only thing I remember is that he asked where I wanted to go in the United States and I said, ‘Disneyland.’ That was the only place I knew. For some reason he let me and my mother and brother through. The guy changed my life.”
Wang and his family lived one year in Fremont, then moved to Reno, Nev. He went to high school in Reno and earned a B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno. After a year of working for Oregon Health Sciences in Portland, Ore., he decided lab work was not for him. “I need to be around people,” he said.
Back in California, he spent some time working in San Francisco’s financial district and enrolled in McGeorge Law School in Sacramento.
As a new lawyer Wang moved to Elko, Nev., where he became the local judge. “I was really too young, but it was great experience,” he said. “When I first arrived, the bailiff pointed to the steel racks under the chairs in the courthouse and asked me if I knew what they were for. I didn’t. He told me they were there for the cowboys to put their hats.” While he was in Elko, Wang also volunteered at the women’s shelter.
This is not the first time Wang has had to answer the call to military duty, and not the first time his boss, City Attorney Bruce Cline, has had to stand by him. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom from Oct. 1, 2007, to March 28, 2008. He had interviewed for the position with the city before being called. When he found out he would be on a military tour, he telephoned Cline to withdraw his application. Cline invited him to lunch. “It turned out to be a full-blown interview and he offered me the job when I got back. I started on March 31, three days after I got out of active duty.
“Bruce has been so supportive of me. I learned I would be going this time four days before my 40th birthday, Jan. 6. When I told him I got called again, he said, ‘You have to go.’ We are so bare bones in the office he will have to take on a lot more” Wang continued.
The young city lawyer will be leaving his bicycle at home and postponing his practice runs. He has been trying to keep up with his boss, but said he gets teased for not being as quick as the seasoned rider. “What’s the matter, Steve, had a flat tire back there?” is a frequent comment when Cline waits for him.
Wang said he is grateful for what the city has done for him and his family. In addition to Cline, he mentioned especially Mayor Andy Morin, City Manager Kerry Miller, legal technician Candy Glass and legal analyst Katie Mulhern.
In addition to leaving his co-workers at the city, Wang will be leaving his wife and children for a year. He hopes he will be able to communicate via Skype.
Wang met his wife Stacey online in September 2009. They began dating soon after and married in July 2010. Their family now includes Wang’s 12-year-old daughter Madison (Maddy) and her 9-year-old brother Russell (Rusty), and Stacey’s 9-year-old daughter, also named Madison. Since Stacey flies for United Airlines, the family has been living in San Francisco, making a long commute for Wang. While he is away,the family will look for housing in Folsom.
During a special good-bye tribute to Wang, the Folsom City Council asked him to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the May 24 meeting with his family attending.
Perhaps the one who will miss Wang most is his boss, Bruce Cline, who said, “Steve is one of the most character-driven, hard-working people I have ever met. He is one of those special people who come along who raises the level of performance of everyone around him. The residents and city of Folsom are very fortunate to have his services. We will miss him greatly, but we are very proud of his service to our country and know he will bring the same energy and positive outlook to our troops overseas.”
Residents can send Steve best wishes to [email protected].