Recently appointed U.S. Air Force Col. Gil B. Williams has local roots

June 25, 2015
By Steve Waring
Special to the Milwaukee Times


Throughout 15 years fly- ing 767 passenger planes for Delta Airlines, Lt. Col. Gil B. Williams, a Milwaukee native and 1987 graduate of Brad- ley Technical and Trade High School, maintained his status in the Air Force Reserve. On June 1 he was promoted to a full colonel and recalled to active duty. Out of more than 800 applicants, Col. Williams was one of only about 50 se- lected for promotion. He is currently assigned to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. He is a senior pilot with more than 5,000 hours flying time.

Col. Williams said that he never had a “Plan B” career in mind growing up. Both his father and uncle were military pilots, the latter hav- ing served with the legend- ary Red Tail Squadron dur- ing World War II. He com- mended the military as an excellent career choice for African Americans and other minorities, pointing out that the service paid for him to pursue his dream.

Although he received a congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy, Col. Williams chose the ROTC program at his fa- ther’s alma mater, Howard University. After graduating in 1991, he began his Air Force career flying cargo planes, in support of rescue missions and Presidential visits. Soon he was asked to train other pilots at a base in Mississippi.

After a four-year assign- ment there he transferred to the Pentagon where he served as director for the countries of Jordan, Kenya and the Horn of Africa. Throughout his career he continued to pursue higher education, graduating from Air Command and Staff College in 1995 and earning an MBA from the University of Illinois in 2008. He com- pleted an executive fellow- ship at Harvard University in 2010 and Air War College in 2013.

He, his wife Bridgette, and their four children, Camille (11), James (10), Lauren (7) and Brandon (6) have lived in Georgia for the past seven years. Col. Williams said he has been commuting from Illinois to Georgia on week- ends and would continue to do so until he learned where the Air Force wanted him stationed. He also said that in all likelihood he would prob- ably return to reserve status after he received new orders.

after he received new orders. After graduating from high school, Col. Williams has not returned to Milwaukee for an extended period, but he has been back often to visit fam- ily and says that his formative years here helped shape his character.

“Milwaukee was a wonder- ful, wholesome place to grow up,” he said. “I learned my ‘Midwest work ethic’ in Mil- waukee.” No matter where in the world he has traveled, a part of his heart remains tied to his childhood home, he said. Col. Williams’ father, James, died about three years ago, but many of his relatives still live in Milwaukee, including his mother, Alruth; three sisters, Lynette, Cindy, and Linda; four uncles, Eddie, Carl, Kenny and Perry; and two aunts, Mary and AlBonnie.