Williams, Freddie Wayne

Captain (Retired) Freddie Wayne Williams, 76, US Army, peacefully flew his last mission into the arms of his Lord and Savior September 3, 2017. Freddie was born December 6th, 1940 at Hoge’s Store, VA, to the late Courtland and Claudine Williams. He graduated from Pembroke High School, class of 1958. He graduated from East Tennessee State University in May 1963 where he was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate and received a Regular Army Commission in the Transportation Corps through the Army Reserve Officer Training (ROTC) Program.

After entering the Army, he earned his jump wings from the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA and was then assigned to the 1st Armored Division (Old Ironsides) at Fort Hood, TX where he completed his two year combat arms detail in an armored battalion. Upon reverting to the Transportation Corps, he completed the Army Rotary Wing Flight Training Program and received his Army Aviator Wings at Fort Rucker, AL. He next attended the Army Aviation Maintenance Officers Course at Fort Eustis, VA where he was taught the fundamentals of all types of aircraft maintenance, to include functional test flight procedures for Army Aircraft.

He was promoted to Captain in July 1966 and reported for duty in Ban Me Thout, Republic of Vietnam in August 1966 where he was assigned to fly combat missions for the 155th Assault Helicopter Company (Stagecoach). While flying a single UH-1D “Huey” Helicopter mission on which he was the Aircraft Commander and enroute to rescue a Special Forces Patrol near Ban Me Thout in late November 1966, his aircraft was downed. He received a severe spinal cord injury during the crash and was medically evacuated to an in country Army Hospital, then to a US military hospital in Japan and then on to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. The seriousness of his injuries resulted in paralysis of his lower extremities, and he was medically retired from the Army in early 1967.

Afterwards, he was told that he would never walk again, whereupon his sister told the Doctors that “you don’t know my brother”. He did learn how to walk again with assistance, and after extensive rehabilitation at the McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, he was able to occupy his new home in Pearisburg, Virginia. He had progressed from walking with minimal assistance to walking with only a cane.

Freddie was not satisfied with inaction after forced retirement and always looked for a challenge. Shortly after returning to civilian life, he graduated from Radford University with a Master’s Degree and planned to become a Guidance Counselor. He subsequently accepted a position with Virginia State Senator Danny Bird as an Administrative Assistant and spent the legislative sessions in Richmond from 1976-1983. In 1983 he was appointed Voter Registrar for Giles County, VA a position he held until 1995, at which time he finally retired to spend time with his Great Nephew and Niece.

His optimism and positive outlook were not hindered by his physical situation and strengthened his desire to support and give back to his community. He was a member of Giles Lodge #106 AF & AM, the Roanoke Scottish Rite, the Kazim Shrine Temple in Roanoke, the Giles Shrine Club, a charter member of the Kazim Misfits clown unit and a member of the Sugar Run Hunt Club. He was a long-time member of the Giles Country Club and enjoyed watching others play golf as long as he was able.

He was a member and Past President of the Pearisburg Jaycees and a member and Past President of the Pearisburg Lions Club where he received the Melvin Jones Award. Freddie became an avid Lion pin trader which resulted in his traveling all over the country to meet people with a similar interest and swap pins with them. He was a long-time member of the Sigma-Alpha-Epsilon fraternity as well as Kappa Delta Pi. He proudly supported several veterans’ organizations, to include VFW Post 6000 and American Legion Post 311.

Generosity was Freddie’s greatest gift to his community – he loved to give and share. He loved the Lord and was a long-time member and supporter of the First United Methodist Church in Pearisburg. Many a student has been encouraged and assisted financially by Freddie’s generosity. He spent hours writing letters of encouragement to students as well as those in military service. Freddie would go to Tommy Davis each Christmas and have him deliver a television to a nursing home patient, and no acquaintance of Freddie Williams ever paid for a meal in his presence, and he did all of this without fanfare or seeking recognition.

He was honored with induction into the East Tennessee State University ROTC Hall of Fame on November 1st, 2013. His sponsor was Lieutenant General (Retired) Hubert G. Smith, U.S. Army, a college classmate with whom he had also served in the Army at Fort Hood, TX and who recognized Freddie’s gifts to his community. He also saw in Freddie superb characteristic and qualities that would have carried him far in the Army had he not suffered a quick end to what he had hoped to be a long Army Career.

Freddie was preceded in death by his parents, his brother-in-law and long-time care giver, Sam Shrader and a special Uncle Walter C. Williams. He is survived by his devoted sister, and long-time caregiver, Carole W. Shrader, a niece, Kimberly Shrader Eaton and her husband Tony, his great-nephew and niece Alex and Caroline Eaton, whom he regarded as grandchildren, and a host of cousins and friends. His is also survived by a special friend, Buddy Shaver, who has been so faithful to visit him regularly during his extended stay at the Virginia Veteran’s Care Center.

Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at the Pearisburg First United Methodist Church at 2:00 pm with the Rev. Dr. Brian Birch, Rev. Dr. Fred L. Austin and the Rev. Eddie Kendall officiating with burial following in Birchlawn Burial Park in Pearisburg.

The family will receive friends at the First United Methodist Church in Pearisburg Tuesday evening from 6 – 8 pm with Masonic services being conducted at 8pm. Full military honors will be provided by the United States Army Honor Guard.

Memorial donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church in Pearisburg. Online condolences can be sent to the family at givensfuneralhome.com.

The family would like to thank the staff at the Virginia Veteran’s Care Center in Roanoke for the responsive and loving care that they provided Freddie.