The following was an account of J.W. Denver Williams by Homer Mathews in 1945:
“Okinawa, May 16th, 1945. Facing another hard battle, the next day, a group of Marines were gathered together for a bit of down time. Someone shouted out to a Marine named Williams that he was lucky to be headed home after being wounded. Williams, without hesitation, replied that he wasn’t going to leave his brothers behind and that he would be alongside them tomorrow.
“Homer Mathews, already becoming an aged soldier at 19, was in the group. He was very impressed with the loyalty Williams had to his fellow Marines. He asked Williams where he called home. Williams said he was from a small town in Ohio. Homer said that he too was from Ohio and asked Williams again where he was from.
“’Wilmington in Clinton County’ replied Williams to the surprise of Homer, who also was from Clinton County. The young Marines discussed home and exchanged fond memories.
Homer later learned that Williams was killed in battle the next day.”
When Homer took his great granddaughter to visit the Clinton County Historical Society’s museum a few years ago, he was sad to see that there was but just a small picture of J.W. Denver Williams Jr. on display. He felt that this was certainly not the tribute such a fine man and Marine deserved.
The museum had been the Williams family home for a couple of generations. Homer was sure the family was owed a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice they had made in the loss of their son.
The young Marine, admired and remembered by Homer, himself certainly deserved more.
“After Homer passed away, I wanted to make possible the tribute to J. W. Denver Williams Jr. that Homer strongly believed was due,” said Homer’s wife, Bonnie. “Thanks to the work of Shelby Boatman and her staff, a fitting tribute has now been established. In visiting the History Center’s museum, you can see a detailed picture of Corporal Williams and the medals he was awarded on prominent view in the family library. Also displayed is the original memorial flag that was presented to his family when he was brought home to rest.”
Family members have also come forth with historical material about the young Williams.
According to Boatman, there are goals to possibly put together a book of photos and stories about him some time in the future.
Currently, you can learn about the history and service of J. W. Denver Williams Jr. during a tour of the History Center — once his historic family home.
The History Center wishes to express their great thanks to Homer and Bonnie Mathews for their memorial efforts and financial support of the project.