Remembering a hero, remembering a brother

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 30, 2004

Thad Williams, as told to Kay Hurley

The e-mails from Al Ruzzo, telling of the leadership and heroism of Capt. Watson Williams, triggered many fond memories for Thad Williams of his brother.

The family grew up on a peanut farm in Nansemond County, and Hatcher Watson Williams, the third child in a family of nine, was born in 1915. In his own words, Thad Williams pays tribute to his brother:

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&uot;He was a little boy who attended Bethlehem Christian Church, sometimes barefooted.

He was the 13-year-old lad, who with his two older brothers, helped to move his family from the farm, lost in the depression, to a farm more than a hundred miles away. They drove horse-drawn wagons and carts and were caught in a blizzard.

He was a teenager who dropped out of high school to drive a dump truck, building roads in order to help his family make ends meet. He was fired from his job, secretly arranged with his boss by his older brother, hoping he would return to high school in order to graduate.

He was the over-aged high school graduate who drove a beat up, borrowed dump truck to his graduation, parking it behind the school out of shame.

He was the sailor shining brass, scrubbing decks and standing cold watches, who sent a part of his meager pay to his mother and father.

He was the Signalman on an Alaska-bound supply ship who received the wireless message: &uot;Pearl Harbor under attack. This is no drill,&uot; dated 7 December 1941.

He was the Chief Petty Officer who was aboard the Spica, returning from the invasion of Attu Island, Alaska, with sick American soldiers and one Japanese prisoner.

He was the Ensign who took command of the just launched U.S.S. LST 538.

He was a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, who sailed his ship to North Africa and somewhere around Italy a German shell killed the man next to him and sent fragments of shrapnel through the sleeve of his jacket.

He was the full lieutenant as captain of the 538 that landed some of the Fourth Infantry Division at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

He was the Capt. Williams mentioned in the e-mail in regards to the torpedoing of LST 538.

He was my brother.&uot;