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USS James E. Williams (DDG 95)
USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) Menu
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Born in Fort Mill, SC, in 1930, and raised in Darlington County, SC, Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Elliot Williams was the most-decorated enlisted man in Navy history. Williams received the Medal of Honor for his service on the Mekong River in Vietnam on Oct. 31, 1966, while serving as boat captain and patrol officer aboard River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105. His boat and another PBR were searching for contraband when crewmembers spotted two speedboats crossing ahead. The speed-boats split up, with Williams pursuing and sinking one. He then turned his boat and went after the second, which hid in an eight foot-wide canal in front of a rice paddy.

Williams knew his boat wouldn't fit in the canal, but after checking a map, he realized he could pass through a wider canal and intercept the enemy craft. However, after exiting that canal, Williams found himself and his crew in a hostile staging area where they came under heavy fire from boats and ashore. Williams and his crew waged battle against multiple enemy boats.

U.S. helicopter support eventually arrived, and PBR 105 moved to another enemy boat staging area. After a fierce battle and more than three hours of fighting, Williams' patrol had accounted for the destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and more than 1,000 enemy troops.

Williams retired from the Navy in 1967 and returned to South Carolina where he found another way to serve his country. In 1969, he was appointed U.S. Marshal for the District of South Carolina. Although his exploits in Vietnam were legendary, he was quick to admonish anyone who wanted to talk about his awards.

"You gotta stop and think about your shipmates," he said in an interview with the Navy's All Hands Magazine in 1998. "That's what makes you a great person and a great leader - taking care of each other."

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Williams' many awards include the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device.

Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Elliot Williams passed away in 1999.  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act   |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAP  |  DoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us   |  988 Helpline
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