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Glad to be home
by Kenda Nelson
May 30, 2011 | 1495 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Army Spec. Billy Joe Williams III
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Army Spec. Billy Joe Williams III was 10 when terrorists rammed planes into the World Trade Centers in New York City and the Pentagon. He was a little too young to fully grasp what those actions would spur.

After turning 17, he talked his father, Billy Joe Williams Jr. of Woodsboro, into signing the papers to allow him to join the Army. With two simultaneous wars waging, his father had little doubt that his son would end up in a hot spot.

“When I knew he was going to Afghanistan, I was hoping he didn’t have to kill anybody or see any of his buddies hurt or killed,” his father says. “

Billy Williams Jr.’s prayers were answered.

At barely 19, Billy III completed his first tour of duty in Afghanistan and returned home earlier this month. With his feet firmly back on home soil, he can look at his tour more objectively.

“I have a lot more faith in my country now,” he says. “It changed the way I feel and I think we’re doing some good there.”

Working side by side with Afghans, teaching them how to enforce the laws of their new government, brings a new awareness.

“We were in a remote area but it was like a small town where everyone knows everybody’s business,” Billy says. “If the Taliban came around, someone would tell you.”

A part of him wanted to trust the Afghans but training told him to be leery and not let his guard down. Occasionally, one of the regular workers would disappear, reinforcing the notion that he might have been there to check out the soldiers for a sinister purpose.

“I learned a little bit of the language, just enough to say hi, how are you, and I’m good,” he says.

With ribbons and medals covering his chest, Billy is modest about his accomplishments. He has a Combat Action Badge, a NATO Service Medal, an Overseas Campaign Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal and an Army Achievement Medal, plus several rows of ribbons.

His duties also included being an all-wheel mechanic, making sure the plumbing is working, fueling generators and fixing any malfunctions he finds.

The local soldier isn’t ready to shed his military career yet. He’s thinking about signing up for another tour.

“I’m looking to put down a foundation,” he says, “I want to go to college but I’m not sure what I want to do. After seven years in the Army, I’ll know.”

Now stationed at Fort Hood, he’s fairly close to home.

Billy says being so far away from home was the worst part of his tour.

“Right now, I’ve got three hots and a cot,” he says with a grin.

He’s proud that every person in his company, the 401st Military Police Company, made it home.

“Not one person lost their life,” he says. “Very rare that happens.”

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