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First Name: Samuel

Last Name: Williams

Birthplace: Denton, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Denton, TX
Middle Name: Tankersley

Date of Birth: 25 August 1897

Date of Death: 26 April 1984

Rank: Lieutenant General

Years Served: 1916 - 1960
Samuel Tankersley Williams

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  Mexican Expedition (1916 - 1917)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Samuel Tankersley Williams
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army

Samuel Tankersley Williams was born on 25 August 1897 in Denton, TX.

In May 1916 he enlisted as a Private in the Texas National Guard and took part in the expedition against Pancho Villa. In August 1917, Williams completed the Officers Training Course at Camp Bullis, Leon Springs, TX, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Officer Reserve Corps.

From 1917-19 Williams served with the 359th Infantry Regiment in France during World War I. He took part in the St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Toul Sector Offensives, and was seriously wounded while commanding a company.

Williams was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the Regular Army in 1920. He served in positions of increasing rank and responsibility during the 1920s and 1930s, including assignments with the 21st Infantry Regiment in Hawaii and the 29th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, GA. He was an avid polo player and was a member of the Army team that won international championships in the 1920s. Williams completed the Infantry Company Officers Course at Fort Benning in 1926.

He completed the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in 1931; graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College in 1936; and graduated from the Army War College in 1938.

During World War II, Williams commanded the 378th Infantry Regiment in 1943 and was promoted to Brigadier General. He was then named Assistant Division Commander of the 90th Infantry Division and took part in the Invasion of Normandy, landing at Utah Beach on D-Day plus 1 (7 June 1944). Williams and other 90th Division soldiers were on board the transport ship Susan B. Anthony when it struck a mine. Though he did not know how to swim, Williams supervised the evacuation of the wounded and the transfer of soldiers to rescue craft, and then onto Utah Beach. [See the Soldier's Medal Citation below for details.]

Shortly after the D-Day invasion, VII Corps commander Major General Lawton Collins decided that the 90th Infantry Division was not performing satisfactorily in combat. As a result, he relieved Division Commander Brigadier General Jay W. MacKelvie and two regimental commanders. MacKelvie’s successor, Eugene M. Landrum, was shortly afterwards involved in a verbal altercation with Williams and requested that Williams be reduced in rank from Brigadier General to Colonel and reassigned to a staff position. Corps Commander Troy Middleton concurred, and the action was carried out.

[Ironic Note of Interest: It was in late July - early August 1944 that Landrum (Honoree Record ID 307008) requested Williams' reduction in rank and reassignment to a staff position as a result of a verbal altercation between them. Later in August, Landrum was relieved of his command of the 90th Infantry Division. Landrum retired as a Major General. Williams retired as a Lieutenant General who had commanded IX Corps; Fourth U.S. Army; and the Military Assistance and Advisory Group – Vietnam and, in the process, earned the Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Army Distinguished Service Medals, 2 Silver Stars and the Soldier's Medal.]

Following Williams' reduction in rank, Henry Terrell, Jr., who was acquainted with him from Terrell's time as Commander of the 90th Division, requested that Williams be assigned as his Training and Operations Officer, G-3 for XXII Corps, to oversee the planning and execution of the Corps' missions in the European Theater of Operations.

After Williams had been reduced in rank in late summer 1944, a pending recommendation to award him the Silver Star Medal was approved. Williams received the award for his heroism on 15 June 1944 as he assisted in maneuvering and positioning lead units of the 90th Division during an assault on Gourbesville. Near the end of the war, Williams served as the XXII Corps Chief of Staff.

In 1946, Colonel Williams was appointed Commander of the 26th Infantry Regiment in West Germany, also serving as Acting Commander of the 1st Infantry Division.

From 1950-52, Colonel Williams served in the Operations and Training Office of the Army Field Forces, at Fort Monroe, VA. In 1951 he was again promoted to Brigadier General. From 1952-53, Williams commanded the 25th Infantry Division in Korea, earning the Distinguished Service Cross and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster for his Silver Star; he was also promoted to Major General.

Major General Williams commanded the XVI Corps in Japan from 1953-54. He was Commander of IX Corps and Deputy Commander of Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea from 1954-55. From January to September 1955, Williams was Commander, Fourth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, TX, and was promoted to Lieutenant General.

From 1955 until his retirement, LTG Williams commanded Military Assistance and Advisory Group – Vietnam, the first officer assigned to this position after its predecessor unit, Military Assistance Advisory Group—Indochina was reorganized.

Lieutenant General Williams retired from the Army in 1960.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Commendation Medal
Mexican Border Service Medal
World War I Victory Medal
Occupation of Germany World War I Medal
American Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
United Nations Service Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major General Samuel T. Williams, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division. Major General Williams distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Chu-Dong, Korea, on the morning of 15 July 1953. On that date, General Williams was advised of a large-scale enemy attack consisting of six hostile divisions and extending the width of the corps front. He immediately contacted all available sources of information in an effort to coordinate the defense. The reports he received were confused because of the scope of the battle, and General Williams realized that only through personal observation would he be able to secure the data he needed. Consequently, he flew in a helicopter to the scene of the battle. Dipping repeatedly to within a few feet of the hostile positions, General Williams noted the disposition of the foe without regard for the heavy fire directed against his craft. At one point, a bullet ripped through the plastic canopy of the helicopter, narrowly missing him. However, even this did not cause him to turn back. Instead, he passed again and again over the battle area until satisfied that he had gathered sufficient information upon which to base an effective defense. Only then did he return to his command post to plan and coordinate a counter operation which substantially reduced the fighting potential of the hostile force through the tremendous casualties they suffered.

General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea Order: General Orders No. 710, (July 30, 1953)

Silver Star Medal Citation (1st of 2 Awards)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Colonel (Infantry) Samuel Tankersley Williams (ASN: 0-8472), United States Army, for gallantry in action against the enemy on 15 June 1944, in France. Colonel Williams joined an assault company of the 90th Infantry Division in an attack on Gourbesville. Upon reaching the town, elements of the company stopped moving forward and took cover behind a stone wall when they came under heavy enemy automatic weapons fire. Observing this, Colonel Williams took the lead and, completely exposing himself to the intense enemy small arms fire, stepped out into the road and engaged the enemy with his carbine. Turning to the men he told them to move forward with him. He led them through the center of the town in the face of the heavy enemy automatic weapons fire and remained in the front of this part of the assault until it had joined up with the other elements of his company. The personal bravery and gallantry displayed by Colonel Williams reflects credit on himself and the military service.

General Orders: Headquarters, 1st Army, General Orders No. 62 (September 26, 1944)

Silver Star Medal Citation (2nd of 2 Awards)

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star to Major General Samuel Tankersley Williams (ASN: 0-8472), United States Army, for gallantry in action as Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, near Munsan-ni, Korea. During the period 5 May to 29 May 1953, his Division was committed to the defense of an extremely wide front which demanded the highest perfection in the details of the organization and fortification of each position on this long line. In the face of heavy daily mortar and artillery fire falling in an unpredictable pattern on the front lines, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, General Williams visited every front line position and important combat post and fighting position. The information gained by his repeated personal visits to the front lines and outposts enabled General Williams to coordinate the disposition of troops and improve the deployment of fire power and to inspire his subordinate commanders and soldiers to a heroic labor in fortification which greatly increased the strength and security of the Division's positions. General Williams' gallant conduct and superior professional ability displayed during many contacts with officers and soldiers in front line trenches and on the outposts with utter disregard for his personal safety, was an inspiration to his officers and soldiers and created in them the utmost confidence in their fighting ability. This strong confidence enabled elements of the Division to repel strong enemy attacks on its lines on 16 May 1953 and again on 28 - 29 May 1953, and inflicted two severe defeats on large enemy forces with minimum loss to friendly troops. His gallantry reflected great credit upon himself and was in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

General Orders: Headquarters, I Corps, General Orders No. 146 (June 27, 1953)

Soldier's Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Soldier's Medal to Brigadier General Samuel Tankersley Williams (ASN: 0-8472), United States Army, for heroism aboard the United States transport SUSAN B. ANTHONY in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, France, on 7 June 1944. General Williams, Assistant Division Commander of the 90th Infantry Division, was the senior army officer on board the transport when it struck a mine. General Williams was everywhere, playing a vital role in maintaining order and discipline. He personally visited the darkened smoke-filled hold to insure that all injured personnel were evacuated and that all available arms were recovered. From the stern of the rapidly sinking ship he directed the evacuation of troops to rescue craft and at risk of his life refused to leave the ship until all troops had been safely cleared to the last man. His selfless courageous devotion to duty was instrumental in the successful evacuation of the troop ship without a single loss of life.

General Orders: Headquarters, 90th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 448 (May 15, 1945)


● Lieutenant General Williams’ papers are archived at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
● Samuel T. Williams was the subject of a biography, 1990’s Hanging Sam: a Military Biography of General Samuel T. Williams from Pancho Villa to Vietnam, by Harold J. Meyer.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant General Samuel Tankersley Williams died on 26 April 1984 in San Antonio, TX. He is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.


Origin of Nickname/Handle:

Texas WWII Exceptional Gallantry

Honoree ID: 307418   Created by: MHOH




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