2nd Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Introduction The one thing that I will always remember about Willie is his smile. Even after thirty-three years, that was the first thing I saw when we got together in February, 2001. All through basic and AIT he was always good natured and had that smile, even when things were not going well at all.
Willie was the first black friend that I ever had, I grew up in the mostly white San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. Willie and I served on many details together during those wonderful days at Ft. Riley and I really got to know and love the guy. My mother even sent Willie a care package every time she sent me one. In AIT we were both trained as 90mm Recoilless Rifle Gunners. Willie carried his 90 like it was a toothpick and I, at my awesome 150 pounds, weighed less than the gun.
Soon after we arrived in Viet Nam, it was quickly discovered that the 90mm was not an effective weapon to carry in the jungle. We never knew so many vines and bamboo shoots could catch on to anything. So� after a couple of patrols, we became riflemen and the 90’s stayed in Bear Cat. Later on the Mekong Delta, they were used as night defensive weapons. Willie is a big guy. When we first got to Viet Nam, there were no jungle boots big enough to fit him. His feet suffered from wearing stateside boots in the jungle.
In July or August of 1967, Willie rotated to another unit to finish his tour. Early in this year, Bill Reynolds sent out a Roster of second platoon people that he had compiled with the help of various sources including Jim Dennison and John Bradfield, and when I saw Willie’s name I immediately contacted him. As it turned out, we only live about 15 minutes apart. Shortly after that first phone call, we met for lunch and it seemed as though it was only yesterday that we were pals back at Fort Riley and in the Mekong Delta – since then we have been in touch regularly. It’s really great to have Willie featured on our Web Site as he is one of the original “Old Reliables who came together when the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Riley back in 1966. Mike Cramer – April 19, 2001