Preserve the Legacy

Medal of Honor & Victoria Cross Recipient

James E. Williams - USN (MOH Citation)

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond he call of duty. PO1c James E. Williams was serving as Boat Captain and Patrol Officer aboard River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105 accompanied by another patrol boat when the patrol boat was suddenly taken under fire by two (2) enemy sampans. PO1c Williams immediately ordered the fire returned, killing the crew of one (1) enemy boat and causing the other sampan to take refuge in a nearby river inlet. Pursuing the fleeing sampan, the U.S. patrol encountered a heavy volume of small arms fire from enemy forces, at close range, occupying well-concealed positions along the riverbank. Maneuvering through this fire, the patrol confronted a numerically superior force aboard two (2) enemy junks and eight (8) sampans augmented by heavy automatic weapons fire from ashore. In the savage battle that ensued, PO1c Williams, with utter disregard for his safety, exposed himself to the withering hail of enemy fire to direct counter-fire and inspire the actions of his patrol. Recognizing the overwhelming strength of the enemy force, PO1c Williams deployed his patrol to wait the arrival of the armed helicopters. In the course of his movement he discovered an even larger concentration of enemy boats. Not waiting for the arrival of the armed helicopters, he displayed great initiative and boldly led the patrol; through the intense fire and damaged or destroyed fifty (50) enemy sampans and seven (7) junks. This phase of the action completed, and with the arrival of the armed helicopters, PO1c Williams directed the attack on the remaining enemy force. Now virtually dark, and although PO1c Williams was aware that his boats would become even better targets, he ordered the patrol boats’ search lights turned on to better illuminate the area and moved the patrol perilously close to shore to press the attack. Despite a waning supply of ammunition the patrol successfully engaged the enemy ashore and completed the rout of the enemy force. Under the leadership of PO1c Williams, who demonstrated unusual professional skill and indomitable courage throughout the three-hour battle, the patrol accounted for the destruction or loss of sixty-five (65) enemy boats and inflicted numerous casualties on the enemy personnel. His extraordinary heroism and exemplary fighting spirit in the face of grave risks inspired the efforts of his men to defeat a larger enemy force, and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.