Leroy Williams Alaska Army National Guard, 1983 - 1986.
Leroy Williams enlisted in Hoonah and went to boot camp in Fort Benning, Georgia. While there he wondered why he ever enlisted because “It was so hot!” He had four brothers that were in the military, one in Marines, two in the Army, one in the Navy. His oldest boy was also in the service (Army).
One day his platoon were all in formation and made to play “Simon Says”. When there were only 25 left, they were told to be in the parade for Armed Services that went past Caspar Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan. “It was way too hot standing there in dress greens…!” But Mr. Williams also said it “Made my day.”
Mr. Williams became proficient with the 90 mm (3.55 inch) (M67) recoilless rifle, an anti-tank weapon which could also be employed in an anti-personnel role. “When you squeezed that trigger you could feel everything come around you… it was pretty cool firing a live round… you could feel the whole ground shake.”
As part of his service in the Alaska Army National Guard Mr. Williams got to fly in helicopters from Hoonah to Juneau, Sitka and Angoon. “That was pretty cool.”
His last year in service, Mr. Williams was told if he wanted to go up in rank he would have to go to Arkansas for a two week training in Air Assault, which would have involved training in a swamp. Since he didn’t like snakes, Mr. Williams said “Nope, I’m good!”
Mr. Williams met more good people than bad in the Army National Guard. He learned “not to look down on others, what they say is their own opinion and I don’t take it to heart... it made me a better person.”