AFRH-G resident highlight - Wayland Travis Webb
By Lori Kerns | Librarian
Wayland Travis Webb was born in Forest, Mississippi. His parents had 14 children, seven boys and seven girls. Sadly, six of their sons and one of their daughters did not survive infancy. Wayland was the only son raised with five girls (his youngest sister was born after he left home). The family lived and worked on a farm, where Wayland began plowing the land with a mule at the age of eight. After completing high school, he moved to Jackson, Mississippi to enroll in a business college, while working part time at the local A&P grocery store. Eventually he quit school to work full time. When he did not get a managerial position, due to his draft eligibility, he decided to join the U.S. Air Force in an effort to better himself.
At eighteen, Wayland took his first airplane ride to San Antonio, Texas to begin basic training. Two weeks later he was sent to Wichita Falls, Texas to complete basic. His first assignment brought him back to his home state to radio school at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. He began his training to become a ground radio operator but ended up becoming an airborne radio operator. He left Keesler AFB to go back to Texas for Randolph AFB training as a radio operator on B-29s. He was then sent for advanced training at Forbes AFB in Kansas. While there, he also received ECM (electronic countermeasure) training. His next venture was survival training in the Sierra Mountains before receiving orders for Okinawa where he became part of the war efforts in Korea. Wayland served many TDY trips to the Far East, including three six-month trips completing 350 combat mission in Vietnam as a boom operator.
When he made it back stateside, Wayland went to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana to be a radio operator on KC-97s. Since he was the 29th spare radio operator there, he went to work in the office, in addition to flying. For six years he kept the flight records for the squadron and also became an operation supervisor. He made the rank of tech sergeant while he was training to be a boom operator on KC-135s at Castle AFB in California. His next orders brought him to Tacoma, Washington where he stayed less than a year before his unit was shut down. He was given orders for Travis AFB back in California to work as a boom operator. Wayland was assigned admin supervisor as an additional duty then sent back to Mississippi for Columbus AFB. At Columbus, they were needing someone for wing scheduling so he filled the position while still serving as boom operator. After three years, the outfit was shut down so he moved on to work in scheduling and as boom operator at Altus in Oklahoma. His last duty was at Minot, North Dakota as a boom operator. After one year, he was assigned as the alert force superintendent. He stayed in this position until retiring. Wayland served in the Air Force for over 28 years before retiring at the rank of E-9.
When he retired, he began working for a CPA using the BA degree he earned while in the military. He then decided to take a position with the postal service where he worked for fifteen years before completely retiring.
Back in his early years of military service, Wayland had met Helen. The couple had dated and then married after he returned home from Okinawa. They had three children, Sherry, Carol, and Wayland, Jr. From these children they now have three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Heartbreakingly, Sherry and Wayland, Jr. were both diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Sherry is still battling the disease but Wayland, Jr. lost his battle. In 2004 just after Wayland and Helen’s 51st wedding anniversary, Helen passed away after her own fight with leukemia.
A few years after losing Helen, Wayland decided to apply for AFRH-G. He moved in 2010 right after the Home reopened. He now enjoys his retirement by socializing and volunteering. He is an avid participant in recreation’s many tournaments held throughout the year and actually wins a majority of them. Wayland also offers extensive volunteer hours at the Home, to include working in admin, calling bingo, giving tours, and serving as Treasurer for the Protestant Chaplain Fund. If that is not enough, he dedicates countless hours to the Home’s residents by using his tax expertise to help them prepare their annual tax returns. Just this year alone he has helped file 222 federal returns (and the season is not even over yet)!
This month, Wayland will be receiving a Lifetime Presidential Service Award for his volunteer services that have surpassed 4,000 hours. The home is thankful for his service and dedication!