The reality on the ground, or in the air, or on the sea for those who are sent to fight our wars is much more intimate than all of the heated politics, the high-minded policy issues, or the questions of the rightness or wrongness of any given war. All of that is far away from the reality of the battlefields.
When the hellish conditions of war break loose, when you have found yourself suddenly in the inescapable environment of angry, purposeful, sudden and violent injury and death, you are not thinking about the political arguments for this war, or even of the nobility of patriotism. Rather your instincts are focused on staying alive, taking control of the situation as much as possible, turning the element of surprise back onto the enemy, and keeping your fellow team members as safe from that harm as possible. Each of your team members are thinking in the same way. Your training kicks in, your concern for each other takes over and you act, instinctively, and fiercely, doing what is necessary to keep each other alive.
You can bet that those and many more thoughts were on the minds of Marine Staff Sgt. Timothy Williams and his team leader and the others in his team when they were suddenly fired upon from three sides with heavy automatic weapons fire from as many as 20 Taliban fighters while they were on patrol in Afghanistan.
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Staff Sgt. Williams saw his team leader get hit by machine gun fire. The bullets shattered his team leader’s leg and spun him around and into a ditch full of water. Williams sprinted over 60 meters through open ground and the extremely intense and focused fire that those Taliban fighters were pouring down range on him and his team. He got to his team leader and pulled him out of the water saving him from drowning, then carried him running over 300 yards to get him to cover.
For his actions that day, Williams has been awarded the Silver Star.
Watch this local TV station’s coverage of the award ceremonies at Camp Pendleton. Hear his team leader, the man Williams’ actions saved that day, give some of the details of what Williams did. See also the emotional pride and sense of wonder expressed by Williams’ father who had never met the man that his son had saved until the day of this Silver Star award ceremony.
Listen to his voice as he realizes deeply what his son had done for a fellow Marine. “That’s the best thing a Marine can do for a fellow Marine.”
Staff Sgt. Timothy Williams has also reenlisted. He is an example of the kind of Marine that is always needed to help mold the Marines of the future.
The Veterans Site sends its congratulations, its deepest thanks and our sincerest respect to Staff Sgt. Timothy Williams for his courage, and his self-less determination to save his friend and fellow Marine.
OooRah and Semper Fi, Marine!
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.