About James E. Williams, Medal of Honor
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Boatswain's Mate First Class James Elliott Williams (NSN: 9908934), United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action on the Mekong River, Republic of Vietnam, 31 October 1966. Petty Officer First Class Williams was serving as Boat Captain and Patrol Officer aboard River Patrol Boat (PBR) 105, River Section 531, My Tho Detachment, accompanied by another patrol boat when the patrol was suddenly taken under fire by two enemy sampans. Petty Officer First Class Williams immediately ordered the fire returned, killing the crew of one enemy boat and causing the other sampan to take refuge in a nearby river inlet. Pursuing the fleeing sampan, the U.S. patrol encountered a heavy volume of small-arms fire from enemy forces, at close range, occupying well-concealed positions along the river bank. Maneuvering through this fire, the patrol confronted a numerically superior enemy force aboard two enemy junks and eight sampans augmented by heavy automatic weapons fire from ashore. In the savage battle that ensued, Petty Officer First Class Williams, with utter disregard for his safety exposed himself to the withering hail of enemy fire to direct counter-fire and inspire the actions of his patrol. Recognizing the overwhelming strength of the enemy force, Petty Officer First Class Williams deployed his patrol to await the arrival of armed helicopters. In the course of his movement his discovered an even larger concentration of enemy boats. Not waiting for the arrival of the armed helicopters, he displayed great initiative and boldly led the patrol through the intense enemy fire and damaged or destroyed 50 enemy sampans and seven junks. This phase of the action completed, and with the arrival of the armed helicopters, Petty Officer First Class Williams directed the attack on the remaining enemy force. Now virtually dark, and although Petty Officer First Class Williams was aware that his boats would become even better targets, he ordered the patrol boats' search lights turned on to better illuminate the area and moved the patrol perilously close to shore to press the attack. Despite a waning supply of ammunition the patrol successfully engaged the enemy ashore and completed the rout of the enemy force. Under the leadership of Petty Officer First Class Williams, who demonstrated unusual professional skill and indomitable courage throughout the three hour battle, the patrol accounted for the destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and inflicted numerous casualties on the enemy personnel. His extraordinary heroism and exemplary fighting spirit in the face of grave risks inspired the efforts of his men to defeat a larger enemy force, and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Action Date: 31-Oct-66
Rank: Boatswain's Mate First Class
Company: River Patrol Boat 105
Regiment: River Section 531
Division: My Tho Detachment