Bill Martin Williams was a Pathfinder in his youth and during his many years in retirement. Bill passed away at the Veterans Talihina Home, Talihina, Okla., on Tuesday, Feb. 2, age 92 years, 6 months.
Born in Tulsa, Okla., on July 29, 1923, to H. M. Williams and May Dolliver Williams.
From his boyhood home in Houston, Texas, Bill entered the U.S. Army on Sept. 8, 1942. Prior to the military, Bill was an electrician working with his father. The military would use his experience as a cable splicer and telephone and power. After training at Fort Benning, he was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
In combat, Bill participated in at least two paratrooper operations: Overlord (Normandy Invasion): D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the liberation and defense of Carentan, June 10-13, and Market Garden, Sept. 17-27, 1944. Bill belonged to the “Pathfinder Stick,” the first paratroopers to “hit the silk,” their assignment, set up signal lights in the drop zone (DZ) for following paratroopers of the Screaming Eagles.
Bill returned from Western Europe on Aug. 9, 1945, and was honorably discharged on Aug. 20, 1945, in Houston, Texas. His citations include: Good Conduct Medal, two Bronze Stars, European and American Theatre ribbons and World War II Victory Ribbon.
After the war, Bill returned to working with his father as an electrician. Together, they help construct the Astrodome. He would live long enough to see the venue close.
In retirement, Bill proudly wore his 101st Airborne Division baseball cap. In Pagosa Springs, in the 1990s, Bill loved to “hold court” at the Irish Rose Restaurant each morning or in his home. There, he easily focused on the present matters sharing his experience, strength (and weaknesses) and hope.
He was preceded in death by his wife of more than 30 years, Patsy. They met at a Fellowship dance. With military honors, he was interned next to his wife in Mena, Ark.
Bill’s legacy and life story will carry on by the conduct of those who knew him and loved him.