Published November 05, 2007 01:22 am -

WW II veteran launched family tradition
By Keith Purtell
Phoenix Staff Writer

Raymond Williams, 88, the first of three generations to serve in the military, said Veterans Day always means something special to him.

“There’s a feeling there that any veteran won’t forget,” he said.

Born in Smithville, Williams graduated from high school in Asher in 1939. He moved to Muskogee to work as a plumber. Then he decided to help with the nation’s effort to prevail in World War II.

“I joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 as an electrician,” he said. “I was at Pearl Harbor for 22 months. I was at a sub base there, working on electric torpedoes. I was discharged in 1945.”

Williams remembers the older torpedo that was replaced by the electric type he and his fellow sailor worked on.

“That was the Mark 14,” he said. “It ran off torpedo juice; 190 proof alcohol that fueled a steam-driven motor. But it left a wake, and the enemy could see it coming.”

The newer electric type was the Mark 18, which can be seen on the USS Batfish War Memorial and Museum in Muskogee.

After the war, Williams and his wife, the former Marie Everett of Wanette, raised four children: a daughter, Jaquita, and three sons; Ray, Gary and Gerald. Both his wife and daughter have passed away.

A past president and active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 474, Williams also has five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

He talked about his son Ray, the second generation to serve in the military.

“Ray had just got out of high school and he didn’t want to go to college, so he volunteered for the U.S. Army,” he said.

Although his son had not pushed for athletic or academic excellence during school, Williams said military training brought out his strengths.

“He was in the special forces and served in the Green Berets,” Williams said. “He was awarded three purple hearts. He still has shrapnel in his skull around his eyes. But, he and I have discussed it very little. He and I are both lifetime members of Post 474.”

Williams said Ray met his wife Brenda while working in Muskogee. The couple moved to Katy, Texas, after Ray took a job with an engineering firm that specializes in refineries.

The third generation of the family to serve is Ray’s son Matt, now a lance corporal with the U.S. Marines stationed in Iraq. He attended Hilldale Middle School and made the honor roll there in 1998 before the family moved to Texas.