Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TFH 7/25: Second Lieutenant Robert S. Williams, USMC

Yesterday, I blogged about Lance Corporal Richard A. Pittman, Medal of Honor recipient from the 1st Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division during Operation Hastings on July 24, 1966.

Along with Lance Corporal Ned E. Seath (Navy Cross) and Captain Robert J. Modrzejewski (Medal of Honor), Pittman was the third Hastings hero I've honored here recently. Today, we have a fourth Marine from the battle: Second Lieutenant Robert S. Williams, Pittman's platoon leader. His heroism during July 24-25, 1966 saw him awarded the Navy Cross.

From Military Times Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to First Lieutenant [then Second Lieutenant] Robert S. Williams (MCSN: 0-92019), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Platoon Commander, First Platoon, Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in the Cam Lo District, Republic of Vietnam on 24 and 25 July 1966. As Company I moved onto Hill 362, First Lieutenant Williams' platoon overran the forward security elements of an estimated battalion of the North Vietnamese Army. While in conflict with the security elements the Second Platoon bypassed the First Platoon and came under devastating preplanned fire by the enemy's main force, suffering many casualties. Realizing the graveness of the situation and being constantly exposed to intense enemy fire, First Lieutenant Williams led his platoon in the same frontal assault. Inspired by his courageous leadership and apparent calm in the face of overwhelming odds, the First Platoon gained the time and terrain to cover the rescue of the Second Platoon's wounded. When the numerically stronger force counterattacked, First Lieutenant Williams took command of the two platoons and formed them into a right perimeter for a better defense. Fearing that wounded had been left behind, he went out of the perimeter alone to search for them. There were bursts of automatic weapons fire, and the covering force began receiving withering assault fire from the advancing enemy. Artillery fire was called in to within seventy-five yards of the forward positions to avoid being completely overrun. Returning to the perimeter, First Lieutenant Williams emerged from the tall grass and reported he could not find any more wounded. Throughout the remainder of that day and the next, First Lieutenant Williams, constantly exposed to enemy fire, moved from position to position encouraging his men and directing their fire. Then early in the evening of 24 July, being too engrossed in his duties to seek cover, he was painfully wounded in the leg by a mortar attack; but he refused treatment until his troops had been cared for and continued moving from position to position bolstering morale and the fighting efficiency of his unit. First Lieutenant Williams' extreme valor, undying devotion to duty, and initiative at the risk of his own life, saved the lives of many Marines and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Having no information to the contrary, I believe Lieutenant Williams to still be living.

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