Blog

Veteran Salute– Mr. OLEPH A ‘Ollie’ Williams

At age 17 and fresh out of high school, Ollie applied for the Marine Corps but because of a bad wrist found himself in the Merchant Marines. After a short time he decided that was not what he was looking for, so came home and at age 18 was drafted into the Army.

At age 17 and fresh out of high school, Ollie applied for the Marine Corps but because of a bad wrist found himself in the Merchant Marines. After a short time he decided that was not what he was looking for, so came home and at age 18 was drafted into the Army.

Soon he wasn’t too sure about Army life after spending his first 23 days in KP without even going through basic training. However, the Army it was, so he made the best of it. This led to him becoming a T-4 1st Cook which he liked until pneumonia sent him to a hospital, ending in a discharge.

Ollie went to work at Sheffield Steel for a short time until joining the Army once again during the Korean conflict. This time he went to the 2nd Infantry Division as a point man living in foxholes in Korea where he experienced horrendous war battles and witnessed much death. Ollie tells of walking 50 yards ahead of his division when someone yelled at him to stop. When he did, he saw he was in a mine field that had been buried by U.S. troops unknown to his own company. It took an hour or more for his men to get him out of the field safely

Another time, Ollie was sitting and resting on an old box when shooting began. The box was hit with shrapnel and destroyed, but Ollie received no injury at all. Knowing he was one lucky person, several more battles occurred without injury. One was in the May Massacre of 1951 when 65,000 Chinese troops were killed in battle and 10 U.S. Divisions lost all but nine riflemen. In that same time frame, Ollie was traveling with a service convoy when it was ambushed by a heavily armed enemy force. Ollie’s truck was hit but he was able to get out and crawl underneath the truck. Exposed to enemy fire, he pulled his comrade from the truck and carried him to the safety of nearby rocks. In his retreat for help, he saved this same comrade from drowning when he fell into a body of water with the weight of his pack on his back. The gallantry in action and devotion to duty reflected great credit to himself and his military service. Ollie was awarded a Purple Heart a Silver Star.

Despite the seriousness of war, Ollie found humor in the time his buddy took off his boots and his socks were rotted off his feet from the exposure to water in his boots. Another time was when they learned he had been a cook in his previous life during WWII, and sent him back to the kitchen. Ollie made sure the boys in the front line of battle received apple turnovers and coffee even if it took him once again to the front to deliver them.

Ollie came home to Fort Leonard Wood for a short time, then back overseas to Germany to work in German barracks for the next 10 months until his time was up.

Ollie lives in Independence, has been married for 57 years, and has three daughters. His story can be viewed in Veterans’ Hall in the Parks and Recreation Truman Memorial Building, 416 W. Maple.

– This is part of a weekly feature on local veterans submitted by Helen Matson, volunteer program director for the city of Independence, 816-325-7860.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Question?Contact us

Please contact us with any questions.
Address: Simpson Hoggatt 984, DAV, 14650 E US Hwy 40,
Kansas City, MO 64136
Email: simpsonhoggatt984@gmail.com
Phone: 816-977-3367, 816-690-2286

Social: