Veteran of the Week: Pelham mayor continued his father’s Army legacy

Gary Waters, mayor of Pelham, received his commission as a second lieutenant in June 1982. Pictured are Waters with his parents, CSM Herbert B. Waters, U.S. Army (Retired) and mother, the late Jean Pullen Waters, who pinned his lieutenant bars on him. (Contributed)

Gary Waters, mayor of Pelham, received his commission as a second lieutenant in June 1982. Pictured are Waters with his parents, CSM Herbert B. Waters, U.S. Army (Retired) and mother, the late Jean Pullen Waters, who pinned his lieutenant bars on him. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

Mayor Gary W. Waters, city of Pelham, grew up as a military brat, born at Camp Kilmer Army Hospital, N.J., to Command Sergeant Major Herbert B. Waters, U.S. Marines and U.S. Army (Retired), and his late mother, Jean Pullen Waters.

His father served three tours in Korea, two tours in Vietnam, 6-and-a-half years in Germany and many stateside posts from 1945-1975.

“I had a good childhood,” said Waters. “Our life was such an adventure; we were modern-day nomads. I loved it. We lived in Germany and all over the states. We traveled all over Europe and saw many WWII battlefields. My father is a tough guy and my hero. I look up to him more than any other person. The best gift I received from him is a sense of duty, enjoy the good and tough out the bad, but don’t quit. I joined the Army right out of high school in June 1973. I knew the culture for I had grown up in it.”

Waters trained in the Army as a crash rescue specialist learning firefighting, a highly marketable skill.

After three years on active duty, Waters resigned from the U.S. Army on June 24, 1976, enlisted in the Army National Guard and was hired on July 1, 1976 as a firefighter in Baldwin County.

In 1977 the Pelham Fire Department was formed, Waters applied and was accepted.

He rose through the ranks and became fire chief on Oct. 1, 1984, until his retirement in 2008.

Waters’ parallel military career continued and advanced when he graduated from OCS in June 1982, and his proud parents pinned his 2nd Lieutenant bars on him.

He was crew chief of a CH-54 Sky Crane, infantry officer and retired as a captain and instructor at OCS School with 200th Leadership Regiment.

Waters became mayor of Pelham in 2012.

Waters and wife Lynn have been married 40 years, have three children and three grandchildren.

He is a charter member of Pelham’s Matthew Blount American Legion Post 555 and member of the National Infantry Association.

He read Gov. Robert Bentley’s proclamation at the 70th WWII Anniversary at the Spirit of ’45 at the American National Cemetery on Aug. 8.