A lifetime of service: from Veteran to civilian

By Maya GreenSeptember 26, 2023

U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Executive Services Protocol Officer Eddie R. Williams.
U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Executive Services Protocol Officer Eddie R. Williams. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Executive Services Protocol Officer Eddie R. Williams has nearly 50 years of service under his belt. From information management to protocol, Airman to Department of the Army Civilian, Texas to Qatar: his service extends across not only the nation, but also the globe. Williams ends his approximately half-century of supporting the military on Sept. 28, 2023, with a private retirement ceremony and reception hosted by Deputy to the Commanding General of CECOM Liz Miranda, in the Myer Auditorium.

Service in the Air Force

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Williams joined the Air Force right out of high school, Sept. 25, 1974.

“I was passing by the recruiting office, saw [Airmen] in uniform, and the [Air Force] slogan, ‘Aim High,’” he said.

Though these symbols struck a chord in the young man, Williams was no stranger to service in the military. His older brothers served in the Air Force and Army.

Williams’ Air Force Specialty Code was originally 702 AB/C before it was recoded as 3A0X0, Information Management. Within this position, Williams performed average administrative duties and responsibilities.

Williams’ Air Force career began with basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in 1974. He attended technical school at Sheppard AFB, Texas in 1975. For his first duty assignment, Williams was stationed at Homestead AFB, Florida in 1976. His assignment took him to the United Kingdom with the Royal Air Force in Bentwaters, England, 1979. From there he traveled back and forth between America and the eastern hemisphere: Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan (1984); and Ramstein AFB, Germany (1985). Between 1995 and 2000, Williams transitioned from information management to protocol before retiring from the Air Force Sept. 30, 2000.

Williams with his squadron at basic training in 1974.
U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Executive Services Protocol Officer Eddie R. Williams at his basic training graduation for the Air Force in 1974, Lackland, Florida. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Career as a DA civilian

Williams always wanted to become a DA civilian once he retired from the military, he said. So, on Feb. 25, 2001, Williams did just that.

“My whole life is the military and it’s all I know,” he stated.

Williams found the transition to be easy because he could apply the knowledge he had from serving the Air Force to the civilian sector, he said.

For his first duty assignment as a DA civilian, Williams worked as a protocol specialist at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar from 2001-2011. Williams first came to APG in February 2011 and remained until September 2013 his service was requested back in Qatar. Williams then finally settled back on APG September 2018, to not only work there but live on base as well.

Williams enjoys the many benefits and the community that comes with living on the installation. The cost of living is easy, he said.

“I have safety, security, and belonging,” he continued.

Williams compared APG to any normal town, harboring the basic necessities of a commissary, police station, gym, Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic, and more.

The stability of living on base allows Williams to do his job efficiently.

As a CECOM executive services protocol officer, Williams plans, coordinates, and executes distinguished guest visits and ceremonies. Operating from the background, Williams and the protocol team support nearly all events on the APG installation: flag set-ups, Gold Star events, promotion ceremonies, dedication ceremonies, wreath-laying ceremonies, installation observances, Quarters One dinners, town halls, and more. The protocol team keeps things uniform and up to a certain decorum while supporting the commanding general and senior installation commander.

“My favorite [events] are promotion ceremonies,” he said. “What we do is for other people—never ourselves. We always support installation organizations whether they’re being promoted, retiring, or receiving awards.”

Williams finds his job rewarding and loves his team.

“I look forward to coming to work,” he continued. “In the protocol arena, you deal with a lot of people and personalities, and it’s nice to see a smile on someone’s face when the ceremony goes on without a hitch.”

Life after service

During retirement, Williams hopes to spend more time with his family and travel. As a parting request, he urges the next generation to take the opportunity to reap the benefits of serving in uniform and as a DA Civilian at CECOM.

A higher education is not always required depending on the career field and role young professionals pursue, he said.

“I don’t have any masters [degrees] or anything like that,” he continued. “Read a lot and observe others, [because] knowing is one thing but understanding is another.”

Williams encourages the younger generation entering the workforce and their professional future to stay level-headed, stay abreast of all current technological changes, stay professional, and be a well-versed specialist in your area.