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Michael S. Waters of Fayetteville, age 80, passed away May 5, 2023. Mike was born in Syracuse in 1942 and lived in the area most of his life, though he traveled extensively to all corners of the globe.
Mike was a 1960 graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School. He would go on to earn an associate degree from SUNY Morrisville in 1962, bachelor’s degree from Oswego State in 1970, and a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Syracuse University in 1985. An avid photographer, following the completion of his graduate degree, Mike also took photojournalism course work at Syracuse’s Newhouse School.
Mike held dual careers in the military and fire service, two areas for which he had an extreme passion. He joined the DeWitt Fire Department at the age of eighteen. His career in the fire service also included an early stint as a fire safety specialist for Continental Insurance followed by 29 years as the Onondaga County Fire Coordinator. Upon retiring from that role in 2002, Mike maintained close relationships with a number of fire departments, including the Jordan Volunteer Fire Company and the Onondaga Nation Volunteer Fire Department.
Mike’s military career began in 1966 when he enlisted in the Air National Guard. He served his first six years as an air crash rescue firefighter before being commissioned second lieutenant in 1972. He then served 14 years as the Ground Safety Officer for the 174th Fighter Wing, a span which included three deployments to Lechfeld, Bavaria, Germany where his unit integrated into Luftwaffe squadron as part of NATO forces.
In 1986, Mike rose to the rank of major and was appointed public affairs officer. He served as deputy chief, media division, Tactical Air Command HQ, Langley Air Force Base (Virginia) during Desert Storm. He also served a follow-on assignment as chief of public affairs, 363 Fighter Wing, Shaw Air Force Base (South Carolina), and did five tours at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as chief of the combined information bureau for Operation Provide Comfort and later Operation Northern Watch. Mike earned the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1993 and retired from military duty in March 2000.
In his retirement, Mike returned to Turkey often to serve as a guest lecturer for English classes at universities in Istanbul and rode his motorcycle 30,000-40,000 miles per year all over the US and Canada. An avid hockey fan, he was a season ticket holder for both the Syracuse Crunch and his alma mater, Oswego State, where he funded the construction of the Zamboni room in the school’s Campus Center. Mike also founded and funded the Lt. Col. Mike Waters, USAF (Ret.) ’70 Scholarship at Oswego State to help students who work full- or part-time jobs, with preference given to Central New York residents who are veterans.
Mike is predeceased by his parents, Robert and Muriel. He is survived by four siblings — Robert (Barbara) of DeWitt, Mary of Brighton, Linda (Carl) Hahn of Jordan and John (Chris) of Jordan — plus many nieces, nephews and cousins, four adopted Kurdish grandchildren in Turkey and friends all over the world.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday, May 20, 2023 from 9:00 AM to noon at Jordan United Methodist Church (63 Elbridge St, Jordan, NY). A church service will immediately follow calling hours at the same location, and a ceremony honoring Mike’s dedication to the military and fire service will be held at 1:00 PM at the Jordan Volunteer Fire Department (1 North Hamilton St, Jordan, NY). Followed by a reception at the Jordan Elbridge Community Center 1 Rt. 31 Jordan to which all are invited.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Jordan Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. or Onondaga Nation Volunteer Fire Department.