Notable People

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Rear Admiral James W. Williams


James Weldon Williams was born on March 2, 1914, at Farmersville, Texas, where he graduated from high school in 1931.  He attended the University of Texas at Austin for two years before entering the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., with an appointment of Cadet in August 1934.

He was graduated from the Academy with a B.S. Degree and a Commission of Ensign on June 2, 1938.  Subsequently, he advanced to Lieutenant (jg), June 2, 1941; Lieutenant, June 15, 1942; Lieut. Commander, June 1, 1943; Commander, November 1, 1950; Captain, October 16, 1959; Rear Admiral, May 1, 1967.

He served his first assignment on board the Coast Guard Cutter Saranac, based at Galveston, Texas.  With the Cutter Duane next, he served first on the Bering Sea Patrol and then on North Atlantic Weather Patrol from its inception in September 1939 until the following December when the cutter was assigned to the North Atlantic Neutrality Patrol.  He remained with the Duane through the period of June 1940 to May 1941, during that vessel’s patrols in the Greenland and Iceland regions and her surveys and establishment of locations for American Air Bases in Greenland.

From May 1941 to June 1942, during World War II, he served in various capacities on board the Cutter North Star in the Greenland and Iceland regions, assisting in the establishment of American Air Bases and Air Radio Aids in Greenland and in eliminating Nazi weather stations in Northeast Greenland.  He had been the first Coast Guardsman to board the North Star and assume its custody for the Coast Guard from the Bureau of Fisheries.

While assigned to the war-time Coast Guard Manhattan Beach Training Station from June to September of 1942, he was Staff Assistant to the Executive Officer and also was Fire Marshall.  He was in charge of outfitting and initial training of a large number of college athletic coaches who entered the Coast Guard at that time.

He took flight training at the Naval Air Stations at Grosse Ille, Mich., and Pensacola, Fla., from September 1942 until he was designated a Coast Guard Aviator in May 1943.  During the remainder of the war he was stationed at the Coast Guard Air Station, Elizabeth City, N.C., as Deputy Commander of Search and Rescue, and piloted aircraft on submarine hunting missions in the North Atlantic.  He also acted as Operations Officer of that station.

During his next tour of duty at the Coast Guard Air Station, Salem, Mass., from May 1946 to May 1947, he served as Operations Officer, as Executive Officer, and as Acting Commanding Officer.  After a year of training at the Aircraft Maintenance School for officers at Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Ill., he served as Engineer Officer at the Coast Guard Air Station, Brooklyn, N.Y., from May 1948 to September 1950.

After competing another year of training in aeronautical engineering administration on a Master’s Degree level at the Air Force Base Institute of Technology College of Industrial Administration, Dayton, O., in September 1951, he served four years as Executive Officer of the Coast Guard Aircraft Repair and Supply Base, Elizabeth City, N.C.

His next tour of duty was as Assist. Chief, Aeronautical Engineering Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., from July 1954 to May 1958.  That was followed by command posts in the rank of Captain at the Coast Guard Air Stations at Miami until August 1960, then at San Francisco until August 1962.

He next commanded the Elizabeth City Aircraft Repair and Supply Center until August 1964, when he became the first Commanding Officer of the Air Base complex at Elizabeth City, including the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center and the Air Station.  RADM Williams prepared the Master Development Plan for the base and was in charge of implementing the new organization.  For that service he received a Coast Guard Commendation Letter.  He also received the Secretary of Treasury Commendation for Achievement Award for his role in the development of Project IMPROVE, a testing and counseling program to assist management in the selection of employees most qualified for job-related training.

In June 1966, he was stationed in New York as Deputy Commander, Eastern Area.  He was elevated to flag officer by nomination of the President on December 15, 1966, and confirmation of the Senate on March 23, 1967, to rank as permanent Rear Admiral from May 1, 1967.  At that time he was assigned as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation in Washington, D.C.  For his services in that post he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

In January 1970, RADM Williams was reassigned to duty at Headquarters in the post of Inspector General of the U.S. Coast Guard.  The following July he became Commander, 11th Coast Guard District, Long Beach, Calif.  He retired from the post on July 1, 1974.

RADM Williams’ World War II campaign service medals and ribbons include: American Defense; American Area; European-African-Middle Eastern Area; World War II Victory.  Other awards include Expert Rifleman Medal; Korean Service Medal, as well as the Coast Guard Commendation Letter and the secretary of Treasury Commendation for Achievement Award (1966), and the Legion of Merit (Jan. 1969).

RADM Williams holds memberships in the American Helicopter Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, U.S. Naval Institute, and the Elks Club.  He served for two years on the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth City Rotary Club, and served on the Board of Directors of the Pasquotank Wildlife Club in 1964.  His hobbies are swimming, golf, boating, hunting, and fishing.

RADM Williams’ wife is the former Rosamond S. of New London, Conn., a graduate of Williams Memorial Institute and the New London Business College.  They have one daughter, Penelope, a student at Duke University, Durham, N.C.

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