Navy Petty Officer James E. Williams

Sailor Leads Patrol to Victory After Uncovering Enemy Operation

Navy Petty Officer James E. Williams

Of those 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients, only 32 have been Native American, and only five earned the distinction during the 20th century. Three I’ve already named in previous posts. The fourth is Navy Petty Officer James E. Williams, a South Carolinian of Cherokee descent.

Boatswain’s Mate First Class James Williams stands aboard River Patrol Boat 105 in Vietnam. Courtesy photo

Williams was too young to join the military during World War II, but as soon as he turned 16 in 1947, he enlisted in the Navy. He would spend the next 20 years there, retiring as the most decorated enlisted sailor in Navy history.

Williams served in the Korean War, but Vietnam is where he earned his Medal of Honor.