Walter L. Williams Jr.
Walter L. Williams Jr. was born nearly 76 years ago on June 27th 1942 shortly after the start of the Second World War …
Walter married his Wife, Jo Ann and the couple went on to have 3 Sons… Walter served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, enlisting on March 30th 1969… He was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida and ranked Staff Sergeant until he and 7 other Servicemen’s lives came to a tragic end…
S. Sergeant Walter L. Williams Jr. passed away on June 4th 1969… The tragedy made headlines throughout the state… The following is quoted from one article published on the front page of The Tampa Tribune on June 5th 1969:
"8 M’Dill Airmen Die In Helicopter Crash
Blades Just Fell Off
By THOM WILKERSON
Tribune Staff Writer
Eight airmen were killed when their U.S. Air Force HH-43-B Huskie rescue helicopter’s twin rotor blades apped yesterday above an open field southeast of Tampa and dropped the craft to the ground in a shower of fire and smoke. There were no survivors.
Names of the victims, all stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, were withheld by the Air Force last night pending notification of next of kin.
‘The top blades just went.’ Said S/Sgt. Dennis Surratt, 40, who witnessed the crash. Surratt, stationed at Avon Park Air Base, works part time at an egg farm near the crash scene, which is about 34 miles southeast of Tampa off Bledsoe Road and Balm Road, one mile west of State Road 39 and south of State Road 672.
The helicopter was bound from Avon Park on its return to MacDill. The Air Force said a rescue helicopter goes to the Avon Park bombing range each morning for standby duty in case an aircraft crashes and returns to MacDill at night, The crash occurred shortly before p.m.
‘I’d stopped at the egg farm,’ Surratt recalled, ‘and I saw the chopper as it crossed from the highway (Balm Road), There was a thunderstorm coming in. The top blades just went and it dropped straight down.’
Surratt, near tears, estimated that the aircraft was about 200 feet above the ground when the blades separated from the body.
‘I took off like a bat out of hell running across the swamp and got over here,’ he said. ‘I heard two explosions. Then, there were two plumes of smoke from it. One was white and the other was black.”
The following is quoted from Staff Sergeant Walter L. William Jr.’s Funeral Notice published in The Tampa Tribune on June 14th 1969:
“WILLIAMS, S/DGT. WALTER JR. --- Funeral services for the late S/Sgt. Walter Williams Jr, will be conducted Monday at 10:00 A.M. from the USAF Chapel, MacDill AF Base with a Military Chaplain officiating, assisted by the Rev. C. S. H. Hunter Jr. Entombment will follow in the Shady Grove Cemetery. Survivors include a devoted wife, Mrs. Jo Ann Williams, 3 sons, Dwight Clayton, Lee Andrew, and Anthony Terry Williams, a grandmother, 3 uncles, 3 Aunts, a mother-in-law, 3 sisters-in-law, 2 brothers-in-law, and a host of devoted friends. Full Military Honors will be rendered by the Ceremonial Team, MacDill AF Base, THE FAMILY WILL RECEIVE FRIENDS AT THE RAY WILLIAMS FUNERAL HOME CHAPEL ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY EVENING FROM 7-9 P.M. THE REMAINS WILL NOT BE VIEWED, ARRANGEMENTS BY THE RAY WILLIAMS FUNERAL HOME, W. C. BRYANT, FUNERAL DIRECTOR.”