William G. “Higgy” Higginbotham, Col USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on February 18, 2015.

Retired USAF Col. William Gordon Higginbotham, Jr., flew West on Feb. 18, 2015. Known as “Higgy” to everybody who knew him and for as long as anybody can remember, he was born Feb. 12, 1931, in Patterson, La., to Coach “Hickey” and Mayme Higginbotham. He graduated from Baton Rouge High School where he was a Hall of Fame member for football, baseball, swimming and track. He attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL, currently known as University of Louisiana- Lafayette) where he played football and ran track.

Higgy answered the call and was commissioned in the USAF through the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on June 8, 1954. Higgy had an exemplary career as a fighter pilot, flying T-6, T-33, T-28, F-86, F-100, F-105, L-19 and F-4 aircraft, and was stationed around the world. While serving as an instructor pilot at the “Home of the Fighter Pilot,” Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nev., Higgy was selected to be the Right Wingman for the Thunderbirds, the prestigious USAF aerial demonstration team. During the 1963 and 1964 air show seasons, he flew air shows in all 50 states, Canada, The Caribbean Islands North Africa, and 12 European countries.

In 1966 Higgy volunteered for combat duty and was assigned to Udorn, Thailand as a Flight Commander, flying the mighty F-4 Phantom II. He flew 240 combat missions, including 100 missions over heavily defended North Vietnam. Higgy’s citations include five Distinguished Flying Crosses and 19 Air Medals, among numerous others. Other assignments include a tour in the United Kingdom (RAF Bentwaters) as the F-4 squadron Operations Officer and later, commander; director of operations at Aviano Air Base, Italy; and assistant director of operations of the Tactical Air Warfare Center (TAWC) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Col. Higginbotham retired from the USAF in 1978 then served 24 years on the Lafayette, La., Airport Commission. He is survived by his sister, Ann Macfee, and a very close family of friends and fighter pilots.

Higgy was a longtime and proud member of the Command Bar Stool Association (CBSA), the Ft. Walton Beach (VPS) QB hangar, and the Super Sabre Society. Although he had no time for political correctness, he was always quick with a smile and a tasteless joke. Higgy was a true friend, a brother, and Good Fellow to all those around him. We will miss him, but our lives were enriched because we knew him!

At his request, in lieu of flowers he said to buy a pretty girl a drink. Because that’s what Higgy would do! Higgy had a tremendous respect for his brethren who could tap dance!

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