Monday, November 9, 2015 –
CHARLOTTE, N.C.- A family with over four decades of service to our country marked an important milestone on Oct. 18, when Capt. Mark Williams, one of three men in his family who have served or are continuing to serve our country was promoted to the rank of major by his father, retired Brig. Gen. Blake Williams.
The tradition began when the senior Williams enlisted in the Army Reserve on Dec., 17, 1971. Starting out as a private, he completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He received his commission after completing the New York State Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School in 1977. He went on to serve as an engineering officer in a variety of assignments including two tours as a drill sergeant company commander. He was also the first Williams to have a connection with the 108th Training Command (IET).
“I started (there) about 1987, when we moved down from upstate New York (and) virtually I was in that (command) in various units until 2005,” said Blake Williams.
The decisions made by my two sons to serve and to continue the tradition was met not only with pride but with the knowledge that they would have an opportunity to fulfill the leadership potential I saw in them, said Blake Williams.
Being raised in a military Family, Mark Williams was already thinking about joining the military but he went on to say that the decision was not made until he finished college, and was attending law school, that he chose to follow the advice of one of his law school professors, a retired Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Colonel.
Mark Williams, who currently serves as an administrative law attorney with the 108th Training Command (IET) JAG office, joined the Army Reserve in 2007 and commissioned as a Judge Advocate officer. He was soon activated several times for a variety of missions, among them deployments to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division in 2009 and the 18th Airborne Corps in 2011. In June, of this year, he joined the 108th Training Command (IET). His brother, Capt. Ryan Williams soon followed, coming into the Army Reserve after a break in service.
The Williams tradition of service saw one of its first notable moments when Mark Williams was briefly joined during his first deployment in 2009 by his brother, Ryan Williams, who deployed to Kristi, Iraq six months earlier.
“We ended up overlapping for two or three weeks in Tikrit at the same FOB so we got to hang out a little bit. It was kind of cool, being my first active duty, it gave me quite a bit of comfort to know that he was there and offered to show me the ropes in that particular area. That kind of put me at ease,” said Ryan Williams.
Another noteworthy event in the Williams Family took place during that same 2009 deployment. Blake Williams was also activated with 1st Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, in support of the 3rd Infantry Division. This effectively had all three men contributing to the same deployment.
Mark Williams attributes part of his success to his father's leadership example, one he tries to emulate because of the emphasis it places on valuing subordinates by treating them with great respect and demonstrating genuine concern for their welfare as well as that of their families.
“As much as he could, he would invest in the personal lives of the people he was working with, in particular subordinates, to get to know them, what they were dealing with and to motivate people by assuring them that everyone had a role to play in the big mission,” said Mark Williams.
Blake Williams continues to provide leadership guidance and sharing hard-earned experiences with anyone newly promoted.
“You now have the responsibility for the Soldiers underneath you so it's important to take care of them,” said Blake Williams, “Make them successful because you can't be successful unless your folks are successful.”
Promoting his son brought back memories for Blake Williams who recalled those moments in his career. He also expressed that his son’s promotion was a proud and satisfying moment for both himself and Mrs. Williams. Mark Williams saw the moment not only as an emotional one for himself but for his father and brother as well.
“There was no doubt that I wanted my father there. I was also grateful for the opportunity it gave him to wear the uniform again. He spent a lot of time at the 108th and now both my brother and I are there,” said Mark Williams. “I've never been one, and my father is the same way, to like the spotlight on me but this was one situation where I couldn't resist the opportunity to enjoy the moment with all three of the Williams guys there in uniform, serving together. It was really special.”
Click here to learn more about the 108th Training Command- Initial Entry Training