Captain (R) Williams was a Distinguished Military Graduate from the ROTC Program at
ETSU in 1963. Following graduation and commissioning as a Second Lieutenant with a
combat arms detail to Armor, Lieutenant Williams was assigned to the 1st Armored Division
at Fort Hood, Texas. He reverted to his basic branch, Transportation Corps, in the
summer of 1965 and attended the US Army Flight Training Program at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Following graduation from the primary helicopter training program at Rucker, he attended
the Aircraft Maintenance Officers Course at Fort Eustis, VA. He was next assigned
to the 155th Assault Helicopter Company in Ban Me Thout, Central Highlands in II Corps,
Republic of Vietnam on September 22, 1966.
He was medically retired in the grade of Captain, following his being severely injured
in a helicopter crash associated with a classified combat mission in support of a
U.S. Special Forces Team west of Ban Me Thout on 24 November 1966. Captain Williams,
the aircraft commander, and his crew had just performed an extraction of a four member
Special Forces Team that had been compromised and was in danger of being captured
or killed by the enemy while operating across the border. Captain Williams suffered
severe spinal cord injuries and was initially paralyzed from the waist down for many
months. With therapy and extended treatment in VA hospitals for years, he eventually
learned to walk with assistance. Ultimately, he learned to walk unassisted and drive
After he recuperated sufficiently well to permit his being in a public work environment
for an average day, he was appointed an aide to Virginia State Senator Byrd in Richmond,
VA in 1976. He served in this capacity until 1983 at which time he was appointed Registrar
for Giles County, Virginia (Pearisburg, VA). He ably served Giles County for 15 years
after which time he continued to assist the county as a volunteer in many capacities.
Captain Williams was active in local civic clubs, beginning with his membership in
the Jaycees and later transitioning to the Lions Club. He held local and state level
offices in the Lions Club and represented his club at annual national conventions
for both. His local club was able to accommodate his special needs during travel as
a result of his being "adopted" by his hometown club and transported to/from such
activity by a privately owned airplane provided by local businessman. He has also
remained active on the public speaker circuit where he continues to speak to local
civic clubs and schools on the subject of the Vietnam War.