Fallen soldier finds final resting place (updated)By Emily Beckett Published 7:28pm Sunday, June 9, 2013
Sunday marked the culmination of an American soldier’s prolonged journey home from North Korea to the National Military Cemetery in Hawaii to his final resting place in Chilton County.
More than 60 years after his death in the Korean War, United States Army Master Sgt. Olen Berry Williams was honored and laid to rest by family and friends, many of whom had waited decades to learn his whereabouts and welcome him home.
Williams’ great-nephew, Bob Williams, shared a eulogy of his great-uncle, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, during a crowded memorial service Sunday afternoon at Martin Funeral Home in Clanton.
Bob Williams, a retired Air Force colonel, noted the Army’s work in identifying Williams’ remains in April using DNA samples and biographical information provided by relatives.
“What could be more appropriate today than a homecoming of an American hero?” Robert Williams said. “He was certainly a hero in my eyes even before he went to Korea.”
Aubrey Wallace led opening and closing prayers, read Scripture and commended Williams, a highly decorated non-commissioned officer, for his selfless service that helped secure U.S. citizens’ freedom.
“We need to remember that we are not free to forget,” Wallace said. “We will not forget his sacrifice. Because of his sacrifice and the sacrifice of many others, we are free today.”
Following the memorial service, American Legion riders escorted Williams to Evergreen Cemetery in Verbena, where he was buried with full military honors in the quiet countryside near his birthplace.