Staff Sgt. Wesley Williams landed in Afghanistan two months ago and told his platoon sergeant there was “absolutely nothing else he would rather be doing than serving his country.”
Williams exuded that dedication every day among members of his Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade, setting an example that motivated junior soldiers and earned him recognition from senior officers.
It also made his loss all the more painful when an enemy bomb killed him during a Dec. 10 patrol in Kandahar province’s dangerous Panjwai district.
“Several of us will remember how hard Staff Sgt. Williams fought in his most desperate moment for his own life, and more importantly, for the lives of his soldiers,” his company commander, Capt. Matt Boise, wrote in remarks read Wednesday at a Lewis-McChord memorial service.
Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, served with Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on what was his third and final deployment. The brigade has had three reported deaths since it arrived in Afghanistan in November.
Williams had twice fought in Iraq, and once earned recognition as the “soldier of the quarter” among the 4,000 men and women in his brigade.
“He showed me what it meant to be a fearless, hard-charging leader day in and day out,” wrote his friend, Staff Sgt. Edward Cizik.
Soldiers knew him as a loving husband and father of a 1-year-old daughter. The program at Wednesday’s service said he had an “insatiable appetite for knowledge and teaching.”
He liked to unwind by playing the science fiction video game Halo, and he had a quiet obsession with Batman.
“We know who he really was,” his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Chad Sundem wrote, comparing Williams to Bruce Wayne, the superhero’s secret identity.
Williams’ wife, Krista, last month told his hometown newspaper that her husband died carrying out the ideals of a young man who always wanted to serve in the Army.
They were high school sweethearts. The Dayton Daily News of Ohio reported that he died just before their fourth wedding anniversary.
Krista Williams is pregnant with their second child, and proud of her husband.
“We can go to bed tonight and be comfortable in our own beds and that’s exactly what (soldiers) want for us,” she told The Dayton newspaper. “Every soldier fights for his family.”
Boise tailored some of his tribute directly to Williams’ wife.
“Words cannot express how deeply sorry I am that I did not bring him home safely,” Boise wrote.
“In too short a period of time, he gave more than just his nation a lifetime of service,” the captain wrote.
Sundem said the example the fallen soldier set in his seven years in the Army will live on long after his platoon mates come home.
“That legacy left with (his platoon) and the others he’s influenced will ripple through the Army’s ranks forever,” he said.