Jack Williams was born on 18 October 1924 in Harrison, Arkansas, and one month after graduating from high school, enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve on 12 June 1943 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He completed recruit training at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, California, and advanced to seaman second class on 20 July. In August 1943, he studied at Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego. He advanced to hospital apprentice second class in September and to hospital apprentice first class in November of that same year.

In January 1944, HA1c Williams transferred to the Field Medical School Battalion in San Diego. In April he was assigned to Headquarters, 5th Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. He attained the rank of pharmacist’s mate third class a month later on 1 May 1944. He trained for combat with the 5th Marine Division in Camp Pendleton, California. Eventually, he was assigned to 3d Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division and deployed with the unit to the Pacific for service during World War II.

On 3 March 1945, PhM3c Williams was serving with the Marines as they engaged in a difficult battle on the island of Iwo Jima. Uphill, with rocky terrain on one side and mines on the other, the Marines fought against a well-entrenched enemy and suffered heavy casualties. PhM3c Williams was moving among the wounded administering aid when he saw a Marine lying beyond the front lines. Despite heavy enemy fire, PhM3c Williams crawled to the downed Marine and dragged the wounded man into a shallow depression. Using his body to shield his patient, he was struck by enemy fire in the stomach and groin as he was administering first aid. Momentarily stunned, PhM3c Williams recovered enough strength to finish his work before tending to his own wounds. Ignoring his painful wounds and urgent need for medical care, PhM3c Williams continued to search for other casualties. As he made his way back to the aid station, he was struck down by a sniper’s bullet and later died of severe internal injuries.

For his courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty, PhM3c Williams was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Navy Capt Arthur A. Ageton, Director of Naval Reserve for the 8th Naval District, presented the Medal of Honor to Williams’ parents at their home. PhM3c Williams was laid to rest in the Springfield National Cemetery, Springfield, Missouri.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, PhM3c Williams also received the Purple Heart Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. The guided missile frigate USS Jack Williams (FFG-24) was named in his honor and was launched on 30 August 1980.

Navy Medal of Honor recipients serving with Marine units at the time of award

Marine Corps University