Williams, Billy Joe (P2, C4, L32)
Major Billy Joe Williams, 40, of Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky, died from enemy fire in the line of duty on 6 May 1970 in Vietnam. He began his tour in Vietnam on 5 August 1969 with Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Advance Team 3.
His name is on the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the U. S. Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Williams had a long and varied military career beginning in the U. S. Navy from April 1946 to February 1948 as a Fireman Second Class. Williams attended Washington University in St. Louis and was a member of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) from September 1948 to May 1949. Williams left college after his first year and lived with family in Ashland where he enlisted in Company G of the 149th Infantry in August 1949 and served until July 1950 when he left the unit due to a change in residence to Detroit. When he enlisted he listed his civilian occupation as railroad switchman.
At some point Williams moved to Marion and served the United States Marine Corps Reserve as a Truck Master from March 1951 to May 1952. He was promoted to Sergeant and served with D Company, 7th Engineer Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. Williams returned to the Kentucky Guard enlisting in Battery C, 640th Field Artillery Observation Battalion in Marion from June 1955 to November 1956 serving as a Radar Chief when he accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant. During this time Williams founded and operated Williams Department Store in Marion. First Lieutenant Williams was ordered to active duty with his unit, Marion’s D Company, 3rd Medium Tank Battalion (Patton), 123rd Armor on 1 October 1961 during the Berlin Crisis serving at Fort Knox. Williams decided to remain on active duty at the end of the tour in August 1962 and was assigned to a slot in the state headquarters of the Kentucky Guard while he was on active duty. Williams was promoted to Captain in November 1963 and Major in November 1968 while on extended active duty.