Tattoo of CSM Anthony J. Williams
US Army, Retired
Anthony Jerome Williams was born on 6 November 1954 to Leon and Ledora Williams, the fourth of eight children. Young “Andy" grew up in Tunica, Mississippi - a small town of the Mississippi Delta in the shadows of Memphis. Home of endless cotton fields, good blues music, and great southern cooking. His high school days were filled with playing the drums in the Rosa Fort High School band, softball games, and running track,. Tunica was home, however, it offered very little opportunity for an ambitious and hopeful young man with a desire to see more of the world. After working numerous odd jobs, “Andy' at the tender age of 17 made the decision to join the United States Army.
That was a long, hard bus ride from the Memphis MEPS station to Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri for that first assignment to basic training. Andy's squad leader, also from Tunica, was Lash Sturdivant, the former Command Sergeant Major of Ill Corps Artillery. Basic Training at Ft. Leonard Wood in the Winter of 1972 was no joke, thanks to the likes of Drill Sergeants Murdock, Sparr, and Senior Drill Sergeant Ferguson. Ft. Leonard Wood was cold and filled with rolling hills, road marches, and very dark nights.
Anthony completed his basic training and after surviving a thirty-day exodus leave, arrived at Ft Sill, Oklahoma for AIT on the 7th of January 1973. It was a long, snowy trek to drag his bags from the in-processing building, yet at 2:30 am he finally reached his unit. The next twelve weeks were filled with many hours in the classroom and in the field and motor pool learning the importance of being a Nuclear Weapons soldier. Immediately following AIT, Anthony completed eight additional weeks of training at Ft. Sill with the 3d Battalion, 38th Field Artillery, where he joined many other soldiers and leaders from across the Army to form the first Cohort Battery that would be assigned to Korea. This training preparation culminated in an ARTEP-type live-fire exercise at White Sands New Mexico.
Will it Go 'Round in Circles?
Forty-five days back in Tunica could not prepare Pvt. Williams for the long, long journey to Korea. He arrived in the July of 1973 for a week of in-processing at Young Sung, then off to the 3BN 81st FA at Camp Coburn. The twelve months at Camp Coburn passed swiftly with many field maneuvers in South Korea and multiple Nuclear Weapons Inspections. Anthony began his tour in Korea as a Pvt, E-1 and concluded it as a Specialist, E-4. As his tour came to a close there were only three months left on his two-year enlistment. Given the choice to re-enlist or take an early out, Specialist Williams opted to head for home in Tunica. It took only thirty days before MISTER Williams found himself back in the recruiter's station asking to get back in!
Caissons Go Rolling Along
In August of 1974, Specialist Williams found himself back at Ft Sill as if nothing had interrupted his service. Assigned to 1st BN 12th FA, he was again working in his MOS and wearing the rank he had upon leaving Korea. While assigned to this duty, Anthony began to rebel against his squad leader, an unskilled leader who did not treat his soldiers well. This continued until he met his new platoon sergeant, a former Drill Sergeant, SFC Norman Andrews. SFC Andrews was the first NCO that took the time to sit down with Anthony and talk with him candidly about the future of his military career. Some of the discussion took place as "behind the CONNEX" counseling, otherwise known as "high impact coaching". With SFC Andrew's guidance and leadership, Anthony was promoted to the grade of Sergeant in the summer of 1976, which Anthony fondly remembers as one of the proudest days in his life.
COL Bogey March
Soon SGT Williams found himself back at the 3BN 81st FA in Korea. This tour was filled with more of the same field exercises and the additional mission to stand down the battalion due to the removal of nuclear weapons from Korea. While on this tour of Korea, Anthony would be assigned as section chief and attended the Staff Sergeant Promotion Board. Immediately upon arriving back at Ft Sill in the summer of 1977, SGT Williams was promoted to Staff Sergeant and assigned to the Field Artillery Missile Inspection Group. He was now a part of a team of leaders who would be conducting the inspections of Lance missile battalions throughout the force. However, this was not enough challenge for such an ambitious young Staff Sergeant so in 1979, he found himself volunteering to be a Drill Sergeant. He was accepted and assigned to an OSUT Battalion (then part of the Artillery Training Center) where he would spend two years turning young civilians into Field Artillery Soldiers. During this time he attended ANCOC, and with the support of his peers, was awarded the honor of Drill Sergeant of the Cycle five times.
In the fall of 1981 SSG Williams was selected for Sergeant First Class list and assigned to a Lance Missile Battalion in Germany - 1st BN 333rd FA as a Lance Platoon Sergeant. It was here that he met then 2LT Richard Longo, his new Platoon Leader. In time, young Longo became much more than a platoon leader, but also a valued friend. Many field exercises throughout Germany and live competition exercises in Crete Greece were highlighted with the honor of his induction in the Sergeant Morales Club and the opportunity to serve as the NCOIC of the US National Color Guard for Memorial Day ceremonies in Belgium and Holland. Germany also afforded him the opportunity to travel to other countries throughout Europe. This is also where he met his wife, Corinne.
The fourth assignment to Ft Sill included another change in MOS and an assignment to the Delta Training Command Battalion as an MLRS Platoon Trainer/Instructor. It was here that Anthony first met Command Sergeants Majors Frenchie Ardone, Leon Thierry, and his battalion CSM, CSM Butler. Delta Battery had the mission of training all the initial MLRS batteries in the force, meaning two more years of many exercises throughout the East and West ranges of Ft Sill while training and certifying all MLRS batteries.
His next assignment was the 27th USAFAD in Erzurum Turkey. Here, Anthony was selected for promotion to Master Sergeant and served as the Detachment First Sergeant His unit's mission was to secure the 8-inch nuclear rounds and, in time of war, transfer them over to the Turks. Twelve months on "The Rock”, in all its snowy and isolated glory, could only prepare Master Sergeant Williams for one destination - a fifth assignment to Ft. Sill.
Stars and Stripes Forever
As the Service Battery First Sergeant of the 2nd Bn, 37th FA his mission included supporting the testing and fielding of the Hip Howitzer, eventually known as the Paladin. This assignment included multiple field exercises, a trip to the National Training Center, and the opportunity to serve for and work with many of Anthony's mentors, including Command Sergeants Majors Walt Brooks, Guy Williamson, Tim Eldridge, Jessie Cobb, Homer Williams, Dave Stewart, and Tom Noel.
Deep in the Heart of Texas
In the Autumn of 1989, Anthony was selected to attend the Sergeants Majors Academy, Class 35. As a result, the Williams pulled their daughter from first grade and headed to El Paso, Texas. At the time, the Academy was a six-month course. After graduation, the Williams family traveled that familiar road back to Ft Sill, Oklahoma.
Anthony was then assigned to be the Command Sergeant Major of the Big Gun Battalion, 5th Bn, 17th FA, under the command of LTC Ray Canton. The unit had been transferred from Germany and assigned to the 214th Brigade. After a great deal of time in the extreme heat and extreme cold of the backwoods of Ft. Sill, CSM Williams completed his tour at Ft. Sill and volunteered to be assigned to the 25th Infantry Division (Light) in Hawaii. Against the wishes of Mrs. Williams, the family packed and left for Hawaii to battle the geckos.
Serving with LTC Chuck Soby and LTC Duane Hall at the 3rd BN 7th FA , Anthony spent the next four years and eight months deploying the battalion four times to the Big Island, two times to JRTC, conducted exchange batteries with the Australians, completed both Airborne and Air Assault schools, ran the Army ten-miler twice and, somehow, still managed to find time to enjoy the beach. During this time he had the pleasure to serve in the same DIVARTY with then-Major David Halverson, the battalion XO.
Military Based Instrumental With a Beat
BG Colby Broadwater selected Anthony to be the Command Sergeant Major of III Corps Artillery in June of 1997, calling the Williams family back to Ft Sill yet again. Although this was Anthony's first General Officer billet, he was pleased to know that he would be serving daily with four field artillery brigades and three separate batteries of soldiers that were constantly in the field or deployed to places such as NTC. Jane and Colby Broadwater embraced the Williams with open arms and the "Battle Buddy" relationship began. It was here that CSM Williams had the opportunity to work with impressive commanders and CSMs such as COLs Guy Bourn, Nate Slate, Jim Boozer, Al Snyder, CSMs Dennis Meyer, Lash Sturdivant, Marty Talley, Perry Roberts, and Willie Byrd. Halfway through the III Corps Artillery tour, BG Broadwater was replaced by BG Lynn Hartsell. Under his guidance, the Corps Artillery continued to prosper and the relationship between CSM Williams and BG Hartsell thrived as well, so much so that he was known as the "Soldiers' General". In 1998 MG Baxter selected CSM Williams to be the Command Sergeant Major of Ft. Sill and the Field Artillery, an assignment that was life-changing for Anthony. This position afforded CSM Williams the opportunity to travel extensively and listen to the concerns of Field Artillerymen and incorporate changes in all aspects of Field Artillery training. A year in, Anthony's good friend, MG Lee Baxter retired and was replaced by another great friend and leader, MG Toney Stricklin. The pair traveled many places and planned to end their tour together until the call came from the Sergeant Major of the Army that CSM Williams was being considered to serve as the Commandant of the Sergeants Majors Academy. SMA Tilley was convincing and Anthony was on his way back to El Paso. After a brief nine-month term at the Academy, CSM Williams was handpicked by GEN John Abrams to be CSM of TRAD0C.
With his "classic" VW bug in tow, Anthony began the journey to the one assignment that gave him the greatest chance to exercise all the training of his career and make significant changes in all facets of training, particularly focusing on Drill Sergeant development, NCOES, Recruiting, and IET. During this time, GEN Abrams retired and GEN Byrnes stepped in, beginning another long-term relationship that would forever shape the future of TRADOC. When not traveling the world promoting the mission of TRADOC, they could often be found smoking cigars and singing karaoke. After being selected as one of the top six CSMs to be interviewed by GEN Shoemaker to be Sergeant Major of the Army, Anthony completed his thirty-two years of active duty and retired in Lawton/Ft Sill area. Anthony continues to serve as a defense contractor for BAE Systems and on numerous boards for organizations that support the military community. He credits his mother and his loving wife of 26 years, Cody, with his success. They enjoy time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren and taking cruises.