By James BrabenecNovember 12, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla. -- In his third year of service to the Army, a young Special Forces sergeant displayed extreme acts of heroism in April 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom. That selfless service resulted in him receiving the Medal of Honor (MoH).
That MoH recipient, Master Sgt. Matthew Williams, visited post and spoke with local reporters last week, as part of his tour of Oklahoma Nov. 6-9.
Williams came to Oklahoma on a visit arranged by Training and Doctrine Command and 5th Brigade Army Recruiting Battalion -- Oklahoma City. In addition to meeting area dignitaries, Williams visited high schools in Oklahoma City, Edmond, and Lawton to talk Army career opportunities and aid Army recruiting efforts.
"It was extremely humbling to have the opportunity to speak with the young kids and to talk of my experiences and what the Army has taught me. The military in general can offer young people a litany of opportunities with education, training, and the vocations they can take on -- everything from infantry and Special Forces, to cooks, mechanics, and helicopters pilots," he said.
Williams said he was in college studying to complete a degree in criminal justice with plans to go into law enforcement or become a firefighter. But then 9-11 happened and changed his focus of service.
"I researched job opportunities the Army had to offer and came upon 18X (Special Forces Candidate)," he said. "I wanted to serve with the best the Army had to offer."
Moving straight from Basic Combat Training to the Special Forces Qualification Course, Williams said he grew up in Special Forces as a Green Beret.
It's been a great experience learning all along the way developing trust, teamwork, loyalty, and discipline -- all the things that make Soldiers what they really are," he said. "It's been a lifelong learning experience."
Speaking of some of the qualities young people would need to become a Green Beret, Williams said, "The kind of guys who are successful at becoming a Green Beret are those who are highly motivated, team players, humble, willing to work hard, and willing to make sacrifices to get the job done."
With the many career options Army service offers, Williams shared a message that applies to all young people seeking direction in their lives.
"I encourage anyone to reach outside their comfort zone and try to excel at any career field," he said.
A Team Sergeant with 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Williams received the nation's highest honor for valor during a ceremony at the White House on Oct. 30.
"Having (President Trump) recognize my team was extremely rewarding, giving the guys the recognition they deserve was definitely one of the best parts of the ceremony," said Williams. "I'm honored to have the opportunity to get our story out and make it known what Security Forces is capable of and what our team, Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, did."
A detailed account of what Williams went through to earn the Medal of Honor is available at https://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/williams/.