Two F-16 Fighter Pilots from SWGA - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two F-16 Fighter Pilots from SWGA

April 18, 2003

Sylvester - It's not unheard of to have an Army soldier, Marine or Navy sailor from in the same town. However, it's not exactly common to have two fighter pilots who grew up in the same small south Georgia city. Both men from Sylvester have been flying over enemy territory for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Sams family in Sylvester are dressed in Red, White and Blue for a good reason. Bill Sams says, "He dreamed of this since he was a young boy. It has truly been his life, being an F-16 pilot."

Bill Sams is talking about his son, Lt. Col. Walter Sams. He adds, "It's his birthday. We'll have to celebrate when he gets home."

Walter Sams is spending his 43rd birthday overseas. He called home to Sylvester on his birthday. His Dad laughs and says, "His mother sang Happy Birthday to him."

Walter Sams' two girls, Jessica and Tori, and his wife Pam are visiting from South Carolina. Jessica says, "I'm glad he's able to fight and do what he's been dreaming of all his life." Pam Sams adds, "We're proud of all of our troops. They are all doing important jobs."

Just a few blocks away, another family is proud of their F-16 Fighter pilot. Bill Sams adds, "It's pretty unusual to have one from Sylvester, GA, much less two."

Walter Sams grew up with Lt. Col. Scott Williams. He's in the same Swamp Fox Squadron with the 169th Fighter Wing. His mother, Marguerite Williams Gillespie, is proud of both men. She says, "It made you pray more, and realize they are in GODS hands."

Scott Williams has a five-year-old son Luke, a 4-year-old daughter Anna, and one-year-old girl Grace. His wife Diana is taking care of them. Mrs. Gillespie says, "He thinks it won't be long before he comes home . He said not to send anymore care packages because by the time they get there they might be leaving, wouldn't that be wonderful."

Both families will have a lot to catch up on when their pilots return home, including eating birthday cake.

The pilots told their families they may be home at the end of May or the beginning of June.

posted at 6:30PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com