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Obituary: William Gordon Higginbotham, Jr. – Football and Track & Field 1951-53 – Veteran – 2/18/15

William Gordon Higginbotham, Jr 

Colonel William Gordon Higginbotham, Jr., USAF (Retired) flew West on February 18, 2015. A Celebration of his Life will be held at Schooner’s Bar and Grill in the Bluewater Bay Marina, Niceville, FL at 1300 on Saturday, February 28th. 

Born February 12, 1931 in Patterson, LA to Coach "Hickey" and Mayme Higginbotham. 

Graduated from Baton Rouge High School where he was a Hall of Fame member for football, baseball, swimming and track. 
Graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL, currently known as University of Louisiana- Lafayette) where he played football and ran track. 

Commissioned in the USAF through the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) on June 8, 1954. 

Hickey 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 AFB in Las Vegas, NV, Hickey was selected to be the Right Wingman for the Thunderbirds, the prestigious USAF aerial demonstration team. During the 1963 and 1964 airshow seasons, he flew airshows in all 50 states, Canada, The Caribbean Islands North Africa, and twelve European countries. 

In 1966, Hickey volunteered for combat duty and was assigned to Udorn, Thailand as the D Flight Commander, flying the mighty F-4 Phantom. He flew 240 combat hours, including 100 missions over heavily defended North Vietnam. Hickey‘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 AB, Italy; and Assistant Director of Operations of the Tactical Air Warfare Center (TAWC) at Eglin AFB, Florida. 

Col Higginbotham retired from the USAF in 1978 then served 24 years on the Lafayette, LA Airport Commission. 

Hickey is a proud member of the Command Bar Stool Association (CBSA), Quiet Birdmen (QBs), and the Super Sabre Society. 

At his request, in lieu of flowers, buy a pretty girl a drink because that is what Hickey would do!

Athletic Network Footnote: Information submitted to the AN by Claire Lowry with this message: Hickey was my dad’s really close friend and our family grieves his passing.

Please click here for the photo gallery of the 1952 football team, including a single of Billy Higginbotham and one team photo.  

Peace, Ed Dugas