Sgt. Billy Joe Williams was born Oct. 4, 1930, in Madison County, to Joe and Edith (Akins) Williams. After his mother died, he and his four older brothers were placed in the Methodist Orphanage in Waco.
Williams joined the U.S. Army at a young age. His life was cut short while he was serving his country during the Korean War.
Sgt. Williams was a member of the 2nd Reconnaissance Co. (Recon), 2nd Infantry Division. He was reportedly captured on Feb. 14, 1951, during a battle between UNC and CPVF in the vicinity of Chum-ni, Republic of Korea, and marched north to Suan Prisoner of War Camp Complex.
On Sept. 6, 1953, a POW returnee reported during an interview that Sgt. Williams died from dysentery while being held in the Suan Bean POW Camp. The Department of the Army declared Sgt. Williams’s remains non-recoverable on Sept. 8, 1953. The last known family member to have had contact with Sgt. Williams was one of his brothers, also serving in Korea, who’s company had coincidentally passed by Sgt. Williams and his company, while they were both on separate military exercises.
The family of Sgt. Williams was notified of the news and were finally able to put closure on the years long mystery as to what had really happened to him after he was captured.
On Dec. 22, 1993, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea unilaterally turned over 34 boxes containing remains thought to be those of U.S. servicemen. The remains were reportedly recovered from an area with the POW Camp known as the Suan Bean POW Camp. A maternal aunt, Esther Akins Bolton and her son, Douglas Bolton of Decatur, were contacted as remaining, surviving family members to provide DNA to confirm that Sgt. Billy Williams’s remains were part of the remains recovered in 1993.
A positive result confirmed that Sgt. Williams was, indeed, part of the group of remains recovered in 1993. His remains will be returned to Madison County where he will be laid to rest on May 17, 2016, at 2 p.m. in the Rock Prairie Cemetery, west of Madisonville. A chaplain from the U.S. Army will officiate the service, and a full military honor guard will present funeral honors. A register book will be provided for the general public from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on May 12, 13 and 16 at the Madisonville Funeral Home.
Sgt. Williams’s remains will be returned to Austin-Bergstrom Airport in Austin, on Saturday, May 14, where he will then be transported to Madisonville by Madisonville Funeral Home.
Sgt. Williams was preceded in death by both of his parents; grandparents, Alford and Oad Akins and four older brothers, A.J., Alton, Leroy and Murl Wiliams. He is survived by one sister-in-law, Estelle Williams of Rosenburg, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Madisonville Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements.
Please log onto www.madisonvillefuneralhome.com to sign the online memorial guestbook.