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Brian Wilson honors father with record donation to Air ForceBrian Wilson's(notes) eccentric appearance means that he's best-known for some of his crazier actions: Dressing up like a sea captain, hanging out with Charlie Sheen and "The Machine," to name a few.

But anyone who saw Wilson rage with YouTube star Keenan Cahill while raising money for charity knows that the San Francisco Giants pitcher has an oversized soft and sincere side. That reputation was underscored on Monday when it was announced that Wilson had made the biggest individual donation in the 65-year history of the Air Force Association's scholarship fund.

That's one heck of a way to observe Memorial Day.

For the next five years, Wilson will put his money where his beard is and endow two scholarships for Air Force ROTC cadets at campuses across the country.

Wilson's donation was a natural one as he has close ties to the Air Force. His father, Michael Wilson, was an Airman and Wilson grew up on an Air Force base in New England.

Michael Wilson died from cancer when Brian was in high school and the pitcher famously marks every save with a special signal to his father (sometimes to the chagrin of opponents).

But he says this tribute is something even bigger. Wilson told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News:

"My father passed away and ever since, I wanted to do something in his honor. Now that I'm grounded contractually, I felt it was necessary not just to donate money, but to see where it goes. It'll bridge the gap between the finding they get and the funding they'll need."

In addition to the obvious, one of the neat things about this scholarship is that it's sort of a combination of two well-known philanthropic efforts from other Giants. Barry Zito(notes) runs the excellent "Strikeouts For Troops" and it was recently revealed that Barry Bonds will be footing the college bills for the children of beaten Giants fan Bryan Stow.

Wilson signed an extension in 2010 that will pay him a total of $15 million for this season and the next. After that, he'll have one more year of arbitration eligibility. After seeing him share his wealth in such a giving and inspiring way, the Giants should be able to feel a little bit better about giving him the dollars he'll likely command.

For more information on the Michael Wilson scholarship — including requirements and how to apply —  visit afa.org/MichaelWilson.

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