Williams: “Fighting Spirit”



On Oct. 31, 1966, 1st Class Petty Officer James Williams was the patrol commander for two river patrol boats in search of Viet Cong operating in an isolated area of the Mekong Delta.

The patrol encountered fire by two enemy sampans. Petty Officer Williams immediately ordered return fire, killing the crew of one sampan and causing the other sampan to take refuge in a nearby river inlet. Pursing the fleeing enemy, William’s patrol came under heavy fire from enemy forces occupying concealed positions along the river bank. Maneuvering through this fire, the patrol encountered a superior enemy force of boats and troops.

In the battle that ensued, Petty Officer Williams exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire to direct counter fire and inspire the actions of his patrol. They damaged or destroyed 50 enemy sampans and 7 junks.

U.S. armed helicopters arrived to provide support as darkness fell. Though he knew his boats would become targets, Williams ordered the boats to turn on their search lights to illuminate enemy forces.

Petty Officer Williams received the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary heroism during the three hour battle. His fighting spirit in the face of grave risks inspired the efforts of his men, resulting in the patrol accounting for the destruction or loss of 65 enemy boats and more than 1000 enemy troops.

The painting now hangs in the National Navy SEAL Museum.

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