George L. Williams

USS West Virginia

George L. Williams, Chief Fire Controlman, born Dec. 14, 1920, Farmland, IN. He enlisted in the USN Dec. 28, 1938; after basic training at Newport, RI, joined the USS West Virginia battleship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Proceeded through the Panama Canal, joined the Pacific Fleet and was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

As a fire controlman 2/c, while sleeping in the plotting room, he was awakened by the first torpedo hit. The USS Oklahoma had already capsized when they received word to abandon ship. He attempted to cross over to the USS Tennessee and was successful. The USS West Virginia was counter-flooded and settled on the bottom on an even keel, enabling him to return to ship. Later they were hit with a bomb which exploded, setting them afire.

Two days later he volunteered for the USS Monaghan, which was engaged in the Coral Sea and Midway battles before being damaged during a shore bombardment attack in the Aleutians. Returning to Pearl Harbor he was recalled to the West Virginia and sent to Advanced Fire Control School in Washington, DC. Upon graduation he was assigned to the USS New Jersey in Philadelphia and advanced to chief fire controlman. They joined the Pacific Fleet in time for the landings at Marshall-Gilbert Islands, bombardment of Truk, landings at Saipan-Tinian and the Philippine Sea Battle.

Being injured and spending the next six months in Navy hospitals, he was discharged at Santa Cruz, CA, on Feb. 27, 1945.
Returning home to Muncie, IN, he married Jeanne Wright and they have one daughter and two sons. He was employed for 37 years at Warner Gear, Div. of Borg Warner Corp., and was a project engineer when he retired in 1980. Active in church work, organizations, travel and sporting events, his days are very busy and rewarding.

Reprinted with permission from Turner Publishing

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