The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, CPL Willard Frank Williams, RA14320259, who died in the service of his country on November 28th, 1950 in North Korea. The cause of death was listed as MIA to Declared Dead. At the time of his death Willard was 21 years of age. He was from Jackson County, Mississippi. Willard's Military Occupation Specialty was 4745-Light Weapons Infantryman.
The decorations earned by CPL Willard Frank Williams include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Korea Service Medal, and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Sergeant Williams was a member of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. He was listed as Missing in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on November 28, 1950. He was presumed dead on December 31, 1953. Sergeant Williams was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal.
Willard's remains were identified on October 23, 2012. He was buried May 1, 2013 at Liberty Chapel Cemetery, Holmes County, MS.
SGT Williams is survived by his daughter, Evye Beyer,grandsons, John Beyer and Ronald A. Beyer, II, a sister, Josephine "Billie" Williams Beard, a niece, Ann Gum Schuck, two nephews, Billy Ray Lee and Donald Lee.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Mabel Richards Williams and Wallace Frank Williams and a sister, Louise Lee.
Published in Clarion Ledger on April 30, 2013
Here is an account of the funeral from the Cacti who attended.
Willard Frank Williams was declared missing in action in Korea in 1950. His remains were not identified until October 2012. His family elected to hold his interment in the spring and chose to have him buried in the family plot in Lexington, Mississippi. Don Johnson, Jim Hall and I agreed to meet at the funeral home and to attend as representatives of the Association.
It began raining hard mid-morning and did not let up until the service was about to begin. As Doc Hall and I were waiting on Don to arrive at the funeral home, we noticed Don drive up as a van from a Jackson television station pulled in beside him. Don struck up a conversation with the reporter as they made their way to the funeral home. The reporter set up his camera and interviewed Don as to why he had come. Don told him that we did this to honor the fallen Cacti regardless of when he had been killed. "Once a Cacti, always a Cacti." ("Cacti Forever.")
The staff of the funeral home welcomed us as did several other visitors. Jim Hall presented Willard's daughter with a letter of condolence from the Association. She thanked us for attending. The Patriot Guard had several riders present. We spoke to several of them and thanked them for their service. They were amazed that each of us had come from so far to honor Willard.
As the procession pulled out of the funeral home, the rain continued to come down hard. There were several people (maybe as many as 100) who stood on the sidewalks to honor Willard. Many held American flags in one hand and their umbrellas in the other. Many stood inside looking out the windows as we passed by. Approximately 50 people attended the service plus the Patriot Guard. Local law enforcement had every intersection blocked as we made our way to the cemetery.
As everyone gathered under the tents at the graveside, miraculously the rain stopped and only a light mist remained. No umbrella was required! The chaplain, a retired Baptist minister, Col. Ed McDaniel, began the service by asking, "What does today mean to you?" The daughter responded,"My Daddy's home." She had been only 1 year old when Willard was killed in action. This service brought closure to the entire family. I believe they were sincerely happy that so many turned out to honor Willard as he is finally home.
Col. McDaniel continued the service by using a tri-folded flag and reciting the Johnny Cash "Ragged Old Flag" song. The flag represents the principles embodied in the U. S. Constitution of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness. He used these points to discuss the performance of duty by military personnel. He concluded by stating "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another." Willard died to preserve the Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for people he did not know. By the time he concluded, Col. McDaniel had the flag unfolded and across his shoulder. We could see it was, indeed, a ragged old flag.
Full military honors were completed and the service concluded. As we made our ways to the vehicles, it began to rain again. This was another funeral where the family was happy that their loved one was home. Although it has been 60 plus years, it is a great feeling to know that another Cacti has been accounted for and is home.
President 35th Inf. Assn.