Olen Berry Williams

Published 6:23 pm Thursday, June 6, 2013

Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Olen Berry Williams, was born on March 20, 1913, in Autauga County.

Master Sgt. Williams was declared missing in action (MIA) on Dec. 12, 1950, during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. He did not return as a prisoner of war nor were his remains recovered at war’s end; therefore, he was declared killed in action (KIA) on Dec. 31, 1953.

Master Sgt. Williams was the son of Louis B. and Elizabeth Williams of Chilton County and the brother of several siblings who have all passed: Alonzo, Lavada (Bowles), Lorenza, Leona (Headley), Leroy, Lynn, John, Alexander, Alice (Chavers), Allen, Estella (Cawthon), Louella (Taylor), Owen, Robert and one nameless sister who passed shortly after birth.

Master Sgt. Williams was a highly decorated non-commissioned officer who served 10 years in the military and saw combat action during World War II and the Korean War. As a member of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, he went ashore as a member of the first unit to land in Normandy at Utah Beach during D-Day on June 6, 1944.

He was subsequently wounded a month later in France but soon rejoined his unit in fighting across Europe until war’s end. Master Sgt. Williams served with numerous units between WWII and the Korean War to include many stateside assignments and an assignment with the U.S. occupying force in Japan.

During the Korean War, he was a member of the 31 Infantry Regiment, 7 Infantry Division, which went ashore during the famous Inchon Landing to repel the North Korean invasion into South Korea. His unit reformed after halting the North Korean advance and was later inserted in North Korea with orders to hold at the Chosin Reservoir while preparing for a major offensive. On the night of Nov. 27, 1950, several Chinese Divisions overran U.S. Army positions on the eastern shore of the reservoir.

Of the 3,288 U.S. Army soldiers who were attacked, MSgt Williams and 2,504 others were listed as MIA. His unidentified remains were discovered on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir and were repatriated by the Chinese government on Sept. 15, 1954. His remains were buried alongside many other unidentified servicemen at the National Military Cemetery in Hawaii. In 2012 his case was reopened, and on April 2, 2013, a positive match was made confirming the remains were those of Master Sgt. Williams. After 63 years, this highly decorated combat veteran has been returned home to his native Alabama.

He is survived by many loving nephews and nieces who are proud to welcome him home. His brave and exemplary duty to his country is now complete. May he rest in peace.

Visitation will be from 12:30-2 p.m. with the service at 2 p.m. on June 9 at Martin Funeral Home in Clanton with Bro. Aubrey Wallace and Bob Williams officiating and full military honors.

Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Verbena.