Lee follows commander to Hall of Fame
PLYMOUTH — Meeting those you’ve looked up to as you’ve gone through your life can be a daunting thing in the best of times. It can be even more so if he’s your commanding officer.
The latest member of Plymouth Schools Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame — Major William Lee Jr. — had a rather unique experience meeting his idol. He shared the story with those in attendance at Friday’s banquet to honor him and all Plymouth Alumni at Plymouth High School.
Lee told the story of a young man who used to roam the halls of Plymouth High School and was drawn to one area - the photos and bios of the Distinguished Alumni of the school started by Principal Larry Pinkerton in 1981 — and to one biography in particular.
Lee said that the first inductee — Air Force Major General Larry Tibbetts — held a special fascination.
“I read his bio over and over again whenever I walked by that area in the hallway,” said Lee in his induction speech on Friday night. “I decided that was the kind of man I wanted to be.”
Upon graduation in 1988 Lee enlisted in the United States Air Force with his good friend Mike Kamp. It wasn’t long until both had an opportunity to meet the source of their inspiration.
“We were both stationed on the same base with General Tibbetts and he found out he had two Plymouth boys on his base and one day he called us both into his office,” said Lee. “Mike and I are both standing there at attention, sweating and scared to death. We’re enlistees and a two star General just called us into his office and we’ve got no idea why.
“He walks behind his desk, rips off his tie, puts both his feet up on the desk and says, ‘Well, boys how are things at Plymouth High these days?’”
Lee, Kamp and Tibbetts shared stories and memories of growing up in Plymouth for the next half hour and Lee went on to put together a career that allowed him to join Tibbetts in that same Hall of Fame.
The selection committee for the Hall chose Lee over six other highly qualified finalists for the honor. He is the Commander of the 682nd Air Support Operation Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. As the Commander, he leads a worldwide deployable squadron of 112 personnel and is responsible for leading the Air Support Operation Center and directing CFACC Close Air Support assets in combat operations in support of the land component commander’s objectives.
He was an F-15C fighter pilot who flew missions in Iraq enforcing the no fly zone during operation Southern Watch. Additionally, he served as a Predator Remotely Piloted Vehicle instructor pilot, flight evaluator, and Chief of Predator Test where he flew missions in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Also in attendance Friday was Lois Miller from the Plymouth class of 1941 who was the “wisest” attendee at the function. Many other attendees flew in from as far away as Texas and Arizona, but Betty Lou Warnock of California came the furthest distance to attend Friday’s celebration.