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Veteran helps other vets, service members through the Red Cross

Air Force veteran David Williams of Parkersburg is a volunteer with the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A veteran from Parkersburg is continuing the tradition of the American Red Cross providing support to the men and women in the United States military since its inception 140 years ago.

Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces serves alongside America’s military personnel and cares for veterans and families back home, which would not be possible without volunteers like David Williams of Parkersburg.

Williams joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He scored high on the military entrance and placement exam.

When he arrived at the Navy Recruitment office to sign up, the recruiter was away from his desk. So, Williams, eager to get started on his new career, walked across the hall to the Air Force Recruiter.

The new technology the Air Force offered excited Williams. As an avionics technician, Williams started working on F-4s, then F-15s and later taught F-16 maintenance technicians when that aircraft entered the inventory.

David Williams in the Air Force, (Photo Provided)

The Air Force offered Williams a chance to lead, mentor and develop airmen. He fell in love with the Air Force.

“I joined the Air Force for the GI Bill. The plan was to do my four years, then go back to college,” Williams said.

His first assignment was at MacDill Air Force Base at Tampa, Fla. During his second assignment to England, Williams realized he enjoyed the military lifestyle.

“The military provides young people with numerous opportunities to lead,” he said. “You just don’t find that in the civilian marketplace.”

Over a 28-year career, Williams succeeded in many challenging assignments including deployments to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm and assignments in Turkey and Korea, among others. He retired in 1998 as a chief master sergeant (E-9).

As a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer, Williams provides information to the families of new service member inductees. The Red Cross has a congressional charter to provide family emergency communication and other means of support to the military.

As a veteran, spouse of a veteran and parent of a veteran, Williams brings a unique perspective to this task. He understands what the service member and families alike are going through when separated from each other.

Applying his skills as a caseworker, Williams is an exceptional leader and possesses a tremendous amount of knowledge about the military he shares with clients and other Red Cross volunteers.

He joined the Central Appalachia Region, Service to the Armed Forces team in March. Since then, Williams has assisted about 700 service members and their families, providing emergency communication education by phone, email and text messaging.

“Hopefully, family members never have to request an Emergency Communication to be sent by the Red Cross to their loved ones’ command,” Williams said. “If needed, knowing that the family member already has the information and is prepared to do so, that is what is important to me. It is personally gratifying when I know that I have made that difference in someone’s life.”

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