An Army Apache pilot who has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star among his many military awards and honors was promoted to the rank of colonel during an Oct. 14 ceremony at the Aviation and Missile Command.

Col. Michael Williams, AMCOM's deputy director of Industrial Operations, was promoted by friend and co-worker Col. Shawn Prickett, director of AMCOM's Commander's Initiatives Group.

"Anytime you are asked to do something like this it is very humbling and at the same time emotional to me personally," Prickett said.

"You have demonstrated clearly to the Army that you are worthy of this promotion. You are an accomplished and well respected Army officer and leader and Soldier."

Williams enlisted in the Army 29 years ago and deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Storm. He participated in the Green-to-Gold scholarship program and became an Aviation officer in 1995.

He served at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and then at Camp Humphries, Korea, before deploying to Iraq in 2003 as commander of the A/3-101 Attack Company, and Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 3-101 Attack Battalion. In 2006-07, he deployed a second time to Iraq as the Battalion Border Transition Team chief. He served with the 8th Army in Korea and as the company commander of D/1-145 Aviation Regiment at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and as the battalion commander of the 1-222 Aviation Regiment at Fort Eustis, Virginia, before deploying to Afghanistan in 2014-15 as the deputy brigade commander of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. He joined the AMCOM team in mid-2016.

During the 2003 deployment to Iraq, Williams and his co-pilot were flying an AH-64 helicopter when they were shot down. Williams broke his back in the attack, but he and his co-pilot were able to evade capture for four miles before joining up with a search team sent out by the 2nd Ranger Battalion of Fort Lewis, Washington. Only two of the four Apache aircraft on that mission made it back.

"Your long and professional career of service and sacrifice to the nation is something to be commended," Prickett said. "You are recognized for valor and achievement."

Prickett used several phrases to describe Williams -- wounded combat warrior, humble leader, unassuming officer -- and recognized that he reached the command level with the 101st and 82nd, at Fort Eustis and downrange in theater.

"You have excelled at each and every one of those leadership opportunities," Prickett said. "At every level, Mike performed very, very well.

"Now, it's time to move up. You are capable and have the potential. As a lieutenant colonel, you commanded smaller units. As a colonel, you run the Army, and that's the expectation. As one salty retired non-commissioned officer once told me, there are no junior colonels in the Army."

Williams' wife Carrie attended the ceremony along with their college-aged daughter and teenage son, and his mother-in-law and father-in-law. Williams gave his wife a bouquet of 26 roses, each representing a year of their marriage.

"I would not be here today if it were not for my wife, Carrie. I still carry in my tough box the first pair of boots I had when I first saw Carrie," Williams recalled. "She was going to see her dad, who was the commander. They are a pair of shiny jump boots that were pretty expensive on an E-2's salary.

"But, Carrie had to see some type of potential in me. Thank you for that moment and this moment and every moment in between. It was your pride and determination in my career that carried me through."