Sunday, July 27, 2008

James L. Willis - Rest in Peace

I met this fine young man last Thanksgiving at my sister's house. He was a good friend of my niece and nephews.

The word is that James was struck by lightning while on duty but the exact details are not now known.

My mother was particularly impressed with him as he spent a good deal of time discussing his time in the Air Force with her. I think he had been to Iraq more than once.

I think he was known as one of the best baseball players to come out of the Westmoreland TN area.

I spent some time searching for information about James but the below obit was all I could find. It seems the Air Force did not find it "newsworthy" to put anything up about him.

Not all of our military sons and daughters who die in active service do so because of combat. Just being in the service stateside is dangerous.

I don't know why James chose to go the military route.

I do know he should be remembered for the great person he was and may peace be with his family.

Staff Sgt. James L. Willis, age 25, of Ft. Walton, Fla., formerly of Westmoreland, passed away Saturday, July 19, 2008. He is survived by his father, Wayne Willis of Westmoreland; brothers, Nelson Willis of Lavergne, Tenn., Roger Willis of Lafayette, Phillip Willis of Westmoreland; sister, Cindy Williams of Bethpage; grandmothers, Margaret Willis of Westmoreland, Mildred Pedigo of Indianapolis, Ind. He is preceded in death by his mother, Glenda Pedigo Willis. Visitation will be 9 a.m., until 9 p.m., Thursday, July 24, 2008, and 8 a.m., until service time on Friday. Funeral service will be 10 a.m., Friday, July 25, 2008, from The Chapel of Woodard Funeral Home with Bro. Tracy Carter officiating. Interment will be in Eulia Cemetery with full military honors. Staff Sgt. Willis was an active serviceman of the United States Air Force stationed in Fort Walton, Fla.


Guest Book for

James L. Willis

July 25, 2008
I met James through my son Bud. He was a very nice, respectful young man and my heart is breaking for you, his family, to lose such a wonderful loved one.

Rita Simpson (Gallatin, TN)

July 24, 2008
My heart is broken and sad for a dear friend. Mine and my family's prayer goes out to his family. He was a great friend, Crew Chief, and Airman. I will miss you James.

SrA John Wayne Loudin (Fort Walton Beach, FL)

July 24, 2008
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.

Anonymous (Nashville, TN)

July 23, 2008
Willis was a great friend and an even better person. He had a wonderful personality, and will be missed greatly. RIP my friend, and I look forward to seeing you again someday!

Bud Simpson (Gallatin, TN)

July 23, 2008
I had the pleasure of hanging out with James a couple times with my brother, Caleb Thorne. He was a cool guy and I'm really sorry for your loss. My family and I are praying for you. We pray that God comforts you and blesses you. Please let us know if there is anything more we can do. God Bless,
Kathleen (Thorne) Schantz

Kathleen Schantz (Panama City, FL)

July 23, 2008
May the grace of our Lord God be with you during this sad time. I did not know your son, but I would like to express my condolences and yet express my gratitude for his contribution of service to our country.
Find comfort in the word of God and comfort in your memories. Again, I as a greatful person, shall never forget all that our soldiers do for us.


Minister Monica Thompson (Lebanon, TN)

July 23, 2008
Wayne you are in our thoughts and prayers through this difficult time. May God bless you and your family.
From your friends Virginia & Betty Williams

Virginia Williams (Westmoreland, TN)

July 23, 2008
Condolence's & deepest sympathy
to the Willis family. I never met you James, though I've known your brother Nelson for a long time. I'm honored to know your brother, It would have been an honor to know you. We are proud of and thank you for your service and honor with heartfelt thanks your sacrifice.
Greg Collett & Laura Rawlings

Greg Collett (Newnan, GA)

July 23, 2008
Our family will miss James. He was a good kid and an even better man. May your memories of him bring some comfort to your hearts.

Jason and Chaunte' Somerville and Family (Greenbrier, TN)

July 23, 2008
To James Family,

I wish to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your son/brother. I met James while visiting my son, Caleb Thorne, and knew immediately why Caleb considered him his friend, and most of all, his military family.
Dianna (Thorne) Bass

Dianna Bass (Wartburg)



  1. I met Willis (as we called him here) about 5 or 6 years ago I think and had the pleasure of spending time with him as he became a very close friend. He was the funniest person I ever met. He had a big heart and a great laugh and I really cherish the memories that I have. I hadnt spoken with him in some time, and had always hoped we would meet again someday. He will be dearly missed in everyone's hearts.

  2. I've known James for a long time. I can't believe he's been gone this long. Today is his B-day and it makes me miss him even more. I know I could never miss him as much as Wayne Nelson Rodger Sis or Phillip. I remember the year Wayne let him come to Texas with us rofl. If Wayne could have seen him oh my. We had a blast though. I love him and it seems like I miss him more and more everyday. Love you Willis you were the best friend anyone could have asked for. I love the whole Willis clan Wayne Nelson Rodger Sis and Phillip if y'all ever need anything you know who I am and how to find me I'm here for ya anytime.