Veterans in P-I
family share military remembrances
Bill Williams ('52) (left) and his father Bryant Williams
Danny Allen, the P-Is head pressman and a Vietnam
veteran, inspects the quality of the paper during a press run Monday.
|The Post Intelligencer is fortunate to have
three U.S. Army veterans on its current payroll, including two of its former publishers
and the man in charge of its press.
At the age of 28, P-I editor emeritus Bryant Williams ('32) joined up in late 1942, taking a leave of absence from his job as the papers assistant editor to serve as a U.S. Army second lieutenant.
After crossing the Atlantic on the liner-turned-troopship Queen Elizabeth, he found himself waiting at an air base in southern England for the coming of D-Day.
Now 93, he remembers thinking something was up when he spied the Allies Supreme Commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, inspecting paraglider troops at his base the afternoon before the invasion.
I saw him at a distance in a Cadillac limousine, with flags flying from each fender, he said. The men had blackened their faces he inspected them, and wished them well. It was a privilege to witness that.
Later, after midnight, he watched as wave after wave of aircraft roared overhead toward the French coast. It was, he said, the most moving sight of the war for him.
The sky was absolutely full of red and green wingtip lights, he said.
An anti-aircraft battery commander, he and his four-gun battery protected Gen. George S. Pattons headquarters from being strafed by low-flying fighters an event that never happened.
Williams saw the iconic general himself twice once wearing his trademark pearl-handled revolvers while exercising his small dog and another time as Patton addressed a batch of fresh troops from the states.
A grimmer sight awaited him as he and his fellow solders came across a Nazi death camp.
There was row on row of bodies stacked up six feet high like cordwood, it was, he recalled. They had been separated by layers of quicklime. Naked bodies of men, women and children.
After mustering out, he was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
Williams son, editor emeritus Bill Williams ('52), also served in the U.S. Army, although he jokes of having one of the shortest military careers in Uncle Sams Army.
My military career was almost hilarious, he said. I never did serve in a regular outfit, it was always some kind of Looney Tunes outfit.
Commissioned a second lieutenant after completing his ROTC training at Murray State University in June 1956, Williams served when the Army had a surfeit of second lieutenants.
His six months on active duty were spent at Fort Sill, Okla., working out the feasibility of the then-experimental technique of carrying 105 mm howitzers and their crews by helicopter, loading the guns chassis on one copter, and the barrel and crew on the other.
The only problem was the HU-1 Huey helicopters they used were underpowered, and the hot, thin summer air of Oklahoma further reduced the aircrafts lift.
We had several instances where a helicopter couldnt make it, and wed have to cut the gun loose, he said.
By Vietnam, more powerful helicopters were used to transport both guns and crews, Williams said.
Williams first assignment during his seven and a half months in the Army Reserve was in Tullahoma.
|There was a lot of retired military
brass, he said. Majors, light colonels, bird colonels, but there werent
any enlisted men. They were all chiefs and no Indians.
Tasked with creating an Army Reserve unit from this personnel pool, the
Army opted for a Civil Military Government outfit, which would handle running a country in
the event it was taken over by the U.S military.
The Paris Post-Intelligencer
November 9, 2007 Edition ~ USED BY PERMISSION
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