Wife of pilot killed graduates fire academy


FRESNO, California (KSEE) –The widow of an Air National Guard pilot graduated from the Fresno City College Fire Academy.

It was a day filled with emotion but also love and support.

Diane Waters Sullivan broke down as she received her certificate. Her husband Lt. Col. Billy Sullivan passed earlier this week.

RELATED: Pilot killed in crash at Porterville airport identified

Lt. Billy Sullivan was recently promoted here at the 144 Fighter Wing.

Because Billy couldn’t be by Diane’s side during such a monumental moment his entire squadron felt it was important to show their support.

Grief took over Diane Water’s as she embraced her fire academy instructor.

In the instructor’s hand, her certificate for completing the Fresno City College Fire Academy, and while the audience was full her husband’s seat empty.

Diane’s husband, 37-year-old Billy Sullivan died in a private plane crash at the Porterville municipal airport on Monday.

Billy also known as Taz was both an instructor pilot and evaluator for the 144th Fighter Wing and was recently named the Director of Operations for the 194th Squadron.

Billy’s full squadron attended the graduation.

“We are going to carry each other when things are down and so we knew that Taz couldn’t be there today and we didn’t want her to be going through her gradation without people that love her,” said Lt. Col. Russ Piggott.

Even though Billy is gone his memory will live on forever with colleagues by Diane’s side every step of the way.

“She is going to be successful and she has love and support in the community and the people that flew with her husband and we are going to help her succeed in the future,” said Lt. Col. Piggott.

On June 19 there will be a memorial service in Fresno to honor the pilot.

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