volitans: (17)
sam wilson ([personal profile] volitans) wrote2016-12-04 08:00 pm

headcanon

Sam was born on September 23, 1978 (per the MCU wiki; interestingly, this is also Anthony Mackie's birthday). He was born and raised in Harlem; his father was a pastor, and his mother was a homemaker. Though Sam was an only sibling, he had both a large extended family and a strong sense of community through his father's church. From a young age, he was put to work helping his mother in the kitchen, and that was how he learned to cook - mainly classic soul food, since his neighborhood consisted largely of descendants from the black diaspora from the South. (In the present day, his food is still soul food/Southern-inspired, but tends to be healthier - except for holidays, when he makes all the traditional dishes as he was taught.) As he grew older, he was also recruited to help watch over the younger children whenever it was necessary - at church or family events, or simply when someone needed a babysitter.

In his teenage years, he got interested in girls, and had a tendency to fool around with them. He didn't lead them on, wasn't looking for anything serious; he was just a horny teenager. Which still got him into trouble, both with his dad and the girls' parents, but he didn't pay them much mind.

After he graduated from high school, he went on to college - Sam had always done well in school, and he knew that the best way to get his tuition paid for would be through the military. He chose the Air Force, because he'd always been fascinated by birds and flight, and majored in aerospace engineering (one of the Air Force ROTC's umbrella majors, according to their website). In college, Sam kept fooling around with people, and discovered that, hey, he was also interested in guys. Of course, ROTC kept him from going too wild, between the time commitment and the strict grade requirements - but Sam also knew that he was going to have a period of time after graduation where he would be way too busy for anything fun.

Once he got his bachelor's degree, it was off to the Air Force; ultimately, he decided to go through pararescue training; only one in five recruits who attempt pararescue training make it through to the end, and it has one of the highest attrition rates in the US military. Pararescuemen are trained in CPR and are licensed paramedics; they also have extensive experience in water rescue and diving, and are trained in SCUBA technique, parachute and free-fall jumps, survival technique, and the typical combat techniques for enlisted airmen. At the end of this training, Sam and Riley were selected from their class for the experimental EXO-7 Falcon project.

This led to more training in how to use the jetpacks - not just using them, but in care and maintenance. Since there would be no technicians to take care of the packs when they were deployed, Sam had to learn how to repair the wings - basically, he had to be able to take them apart and put them back together, under any conditions. He also had to learn about flight, aerodynamics, and a number of other things. It was during this period that he and Riley grew close, becoming best friends, and ultimately sleeping together.

Then came Sam and Riley's deployments in Afghanistan. They assisted in a spec ops mission to bring down the Afghan warlord Khalid Khandil, but primarily, their duties involved rescuing soldiers and providing first aid before they could be reached by more traditional methods. During one such mission, Riley was shot down by an RPG, and there was nothing Sam could do to help him. He decided then that he was going to leave the military after his deployment was up.

Sam returned first to his parents' home in New York; still shaken from his experiences, he ultimately broke down and succumbed to his PTSD for a few months. It was only when he decided to pull himself back together and seek help that he got better - or at least received the coping skills that would help him deal with his trauma. (In truth, PTSD is an illness that never really "goes away", and Sam was troubled by it for years to come. Some days were better than others, and some nights, he couldn't sleep, troubled by his nightmares. It wasn't just Riley's death, though that had been the tipping point; Sam had seen the aftermath of so many battles, had soldiers die while he was trying to save them. It simply just happened.)

During this period, he also came out to his parents as bisexual when telling them about Riley; his father, who had ministered to so many people in Harlem during the AIDS crisis, was more worried that he was using protection than anything else, and his mother, although still hoping for grandchildren eventually, accepted his lifestyle.

Eventually, Sam felt stable enough to move out on his own again. He moved to D.C., applied for graduate school at Georgetown; he'd decided he wanted to help people in a different way. Sam attended school part-time while continuing his therapy, and ultimately received a master's in psychology, with a focus on PTSD. He became a licensed therapist, and started working at the V.A., running group sessions for veterans who had returned from their deployments much as he had. And when he couldn't sleep at night, he started running around the tidal basin, which was where he ultimately met Steve Rogers.

Sam also had a hand in designing his second pair of wings - much to the surprise of Tony Stark, who hadn't expected to hand Sam a set of schematics, only to have Sam grab a pencil and start scribbling all over them. (He'd expected feedback along the lines of 'make them look cooler'.) They'd been Starktech originally, but Sam had definite ideas about upgrades, and changes he'd jury-rigged in Afghanistan. He let Tony design and program Redwing - Tony was the one who knew about drones, after all. Sam totally chose the color scheme, because if you're going to be a goddamn superhero, you can't just wear black.

Sam enjoys sports, and is an avid Mets fan (and firmly believes in shitting on the Yankees and their fans). His guilty TV pleasure is watching cooking competitions, particularly Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen.

A rough timeline:
1978: Born
1996: Graduates from high school, begins college
2000: Graduates from college
2000-2003: Air Force/pararescue/Falcon program training
2003-2007: Air Force active duty/deployments (possibly multiple tours of duty apart from Afghanistan)
2007(ish)-2009/2010: Returns home, enters therapy, goes back to school
2010-2014: Works at VA up till events of CA:TWS (also in the AF reserves through 2011 or so as a requirement of his service)