FSS Airman receives Graydon Williams award

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nestor Cruz
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Senior Master Sgt. James Smith, 944th Force Support Squadron force development superintendent, was recognized for his exemplary work in support of the wing’s mission as recipient of the 2021 Graydon Williams award.

The award, sponsored and presented by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, is named after Tech. Sgt. Graydon Williams, an Air Reserve Technician who passed away at an early age due to cancer.

Smith, who joined the wing as an ART, worked with Williams in 1994, a time when the wing was transitioning from helicopters to fighter jets.

We had fun working together,” Smith said. “I remember him as a fun guy to be around. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed pulling pranks. Of course, those were character traits we had to have to survive maintenance back in the day.”

Smith is one of the last ARTs who worked with Williams, making this award especially significant on a personal level.

“I consider myself fortunate to have worked closely with him,” Smith said. “There are truly no words to express how honored I am.”

Smith said he’s grateful to his leaders in the wing and his squadron for selecting him for this award.

Maj. Jessica Takashige, 944th FSS commander, considers Smith a crucial member of her team.

“Senior Master Sergeant Smith regularly goes above and beyond expectations, quietly making an impact in the day-to-day lives of Luke Airmen,” Takashige said. “He personifies the character and traits of the late Williams, and I know this award means a great deal to him because he personally knew Williams.

“He is one of our best yet one of our must humble,” she added.

Even as the cancer progressed in Williams, Smith remembers his positive, upbeat attitude.

“I don’t remember his being negative or down about his situation,” Smith said. “Willie’s legacy lives on in this award. I am humbled and I share this award with the men and women of that special time in our wing’s history.”