FORT BLISS, Texas – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence held a memorial ceremony for Master Sgt. Claudette N. Williams, a student in the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course Class 71, Dec. 17. Williams died on Nov. 5 of an ongoing medical condition.
The ceremony was open only to Williams’ family and faculty of the NCOLCoE, with two of her former leaders in attendance via video teleconferencing. The memorial was also streamed live on the NCOLCoE Facebook page.
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and Williams’ former command sergeant major of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, recalled his first encounter with her.
“I was a little concerned, to be honest, when they were recommending someone so young to be the NCOIC of the [Logistics section],” Hendrex said of then Sgt. 1st Class Williams. “[But] we picked Claudette, and at every turn she proved us right that it was a fantastic choice.”
A native of New York, Williams joined the Army in June 2000 as a supply specialist at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Throughout her over 20 years of service, Williams held positions from supply sergeant to senior drill sergeant, and from inspector general to company first sergeant. During that time, Williams completed two combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, and one rotation to Poland.
Her dedication to leading Soldiers stood out to Command Sgt. Maj. Lonnie Gabriel, command sergeant major of the 597th Transportation Brigade, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
“1st Sgt. Williams just wanted Soldiers to be the best they could be, and [her] Soldiers…didn’t want to fail [her],” Gabriel said from his office in Fort Eustis, Virginia. Gabriel was the command sergeant major of the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division when Williams assumed responsibility of Alpha Company. “She held everyone to the standard, and she showed no favoritism.”
Williams was a highly decorated Soldier. Her awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean National Defense Ribbon, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, among others. Williams was also a member of the distinguished Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and Order of Saint Martin, and was a recipient of the Demonstrated Senior Logistician Award.
During his tribute, Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Schmidt, commandant of the NCOLCoE, established Williams as an honorary graduate of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course Class 71.
“Her next assignment is to continue to remind us what right looks like,” Schmidt said. “What a good noncommissioned officer can strive to be, and an example of ‘Be, Know, Do.’”
Williams is survived by her daughter, mother, and three sisters.
The full video of Master Sgt. Claudette Williams’ memorial ceremony can be viewed at www.facebook.com/ncolcoe.