Two inducted into Arland D. Williams Society
Two men who sacrificed their own safety to help someone else are the latest inductees into the Arland D Williams Society at The Citadel.
Arland D. Williams Society
The society is named for Arland D. Williams, Citadel Class of 1957. Williams died in the icy Potomac River in 1982 saving five fellow passengers aboard Air Florida Flight 90 after it crashed into the 14th Street Bridge in Washington, D.C. Rather than take a life ring to save himself, Williams passed the ring to five others before he drowned in the river.
This year’s inductees are William “Cal” McCombs, ‘67, and Travis B. Fortson, ‘97.
McCombs was a football player and a coach most of his adult life. He was the head football coach at Virginia Military Institute and assistant football coach at U.S. Air Force Academy and The Citadel. It was while he was coaching at The Citadel in January 1981 that he saved two people whose car landed in a gully following an accident on Wappoo Road in West Ashley. McCombs pulled a woman from the sinking car and went back into the gully to find a man who had gone under the water.
“Cal McCombs displayed those qualities we look for in our heroes and brought credit to himself and The Citadel,” said Mike Rogers, director of The Citadel Alumni Association.
McCombs will attend Saturday morning’s induction during the 11 a.m. military dress parade. He is celebrating his 40th class reunion this year.
This year’s second inductee is Travis B. Fortson, Class of 1997. His act of bravery resulted in the loss of his leg and several serious injuries in June 2007. Fortson was traveling on Interstate 85 in Greenville, S.C., when he witnessed an accident and stopped to help. A truck on the interstate jackknifed and crashed into Fortson, severely injuring him. Fortson later lost a leg and has undergone extensive rehabilitation for other injuries suffered.
“Travis didn’t have to stop, however, as a Citadel graduate he understood he had a duty to help another,” Rogers said. “Travis displayed those qualities of caring for others that we all need to emulate.”
While a student at The Citadel, Fortson was on 1st Battalion staff and was a member of the Summerall Guards. He is married with two small daughters and is a pharmaceutical representative in Greenville, S.C.
Fortson is undergoing surgery and will not be able to attend the induction ceremony.