SAVANNAH, GA – Fresh out of boot camp, Cameron Walters proudly told his father in Georgia during their nightly video chat that he had passed the exam qualifying him to stand watch and help secure building entrances at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
When news broke the next morning of shots being fired on the base, Shane Walters called his son's cellphone repeatedly throughout the day. There was no answer. The 21-year-old airmen apprentice from Richmond Hill had been killed along with two other sailors by a gunman authorities later identified as a military aviation student from Saudi Arabia.
Shane Walters told The Associated Press on Sunday that his son died standing watch at the classroom building where the shooter opened fire.
“He was just looking forward to getting his wings and being a part of flying and whatever job they gave him,” Shane Walters said. “He just wanted to earn his wings. He was looking so forward to having those wings pinned on his chest.”
The attack also killed 23-year-old Joshua Watson, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy from Enterprise, Alabama, and 19-year-old Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham of St. Petersburg, Florida. Eight others were wounded.
On Sunday afternoon, the caskets of the three fallen sailors were escorted aboard an aircraft, bound for Dover, Delaware. A military mortuary is based there. Funeral plans were not immediately known.
“Friday's senseless act of violence took these young men from us, physically wounded eight others and the hearts of countless more," said Rear Admiral Gary A. Mayes, the Navy's Southeast Region commander, during a Sunday news conference in Pensacola. "On behalf of the entire Navy, I extend my sincere and deepest sympathies to the families of the sailors whose lives were taken during this heinous act.”
Authorities said two sheriff's deputies were wounded and eight others were hurt before a deputy killed the gunman, identified as 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani of the Royal Saudi Air Force.