David Williams
Master Sergeant (E-8)
U. S. Army
Combat Engineers, 561 Combat Supply BN

David was born in Charity Hospital to Courtney and Beatrice Johnson Williams. Along with a brother and sister, he grew up in Oil City, Louisiana, in a typically rural childhood of outdoor play. He recalls attending St. Joseph Elementary School, describing it as "a little two-room shack." He later attended Herndon High School in Belcher. David's father worked as a mechanic and welder, mainly of oil field equipment. His mother worked at Nathan's, a small store in Oil City. David graduated from Herndon High School in 1964. He moved to Houston to find employment, then to New Jersey, where he was working for AT&T when he was drafted in the U.S. Army in April of 1966. Beginning a career in the military, he completed basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey, then took advanced training in combat engineers at Fort Lee, Virginia. He married Irene Bradford, his "high school sweetheart," on November 14, 1966, and left for Vietnam in January of 1967, arriving during the Tet Offensive. "Hot" he describes his first impression of Vietnam. "The whole country just had a certain smell to it," he says. David served with the 561st Combat Supply Battalion, a unit in charge of getting food, ammunition, and other supplies out into the field. The battalion often took supplies to the 25th Infantry Division in a convoy of some 30 vehicles, with a helicopter gun ship overhead. Trucks sometimes ran over land mines. Once, in taking troops to Dak To, his convoy couldn't return because of the constant fighting. David heard from his wife and family by letter. Often, he says, it would take two weeks for a letter to reach him. Occasionally, his mother would send a tape with members of his family speaking. He would talk into a recorder and return a tape to them. He recalls going seven months before seeing a black female soldier. David returned from Vietnam in January of 1968. He was sent to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York. "Not very good" he says of his reception as an American soldier when he returned. "War protests were going on then and nobody met me at the airport and called me names, but it was just another day," he says of his reception. David received his discharge in 1969 and worked for Western Electric until 1975. He graduated from college in 1977. He was laid off from Western Electric, but found another job at Bethlehem Steel Company in Hoboken, New Jersey. Returning to Shreveport he worked as a substitute teacher and as a probation/parole officer before finding employment at Roadway Express. David joined 4013 United States Army Reserves in Bossier City in 1978. In Desert Storm his unit was mobilized for service at Fort Polk where he served as supply sergeant for the unit. In 1997 in Operation Joint Guard, he was sent to Schwetzingen, Germany in support of the Bosnia conflict. He was sent on to Bosnia, where he remained from late September to January, 1998. David was mobilized again for Operation Enduring Freedom in January of 2003. His unit was sent to Fort Polk to help in the mobilization and demobilization processes. David retired from the reserves in January of 2006 while continuing his employment at Roadway Express. David and Irene have four children and five grandchildren. "Love your country," he advises young people. "I love America. America has problems but everybody has problems. When you sign that paper be willing to defend all. You don't just defend it in times of peace. You also have to defend it in time of war. You do the best that you can. You take the Lord with you, you pray about it, and you go and do your job."