b. 03/10/1981 Boerne, Texas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 06/04/2008 Shok Valley, Afghanistan.
Master Sgt. Matthew Williams, a 3rd Special Forces Group operations sergeant, graduated from Angelo State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Driven to serve, Williams enlisted into the Army under the 18X Special Forces enlistment program in September 2005.
After completing Infantry One Station Unit Training, Williams attended Basic Airborne Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He then went through the Special Forces assessment and selection process in 2006 and was accepted into the program. In 2007, Williams graduated as a weapons sergeant from the Special Forces Qualification Course and was assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Throughout his career, Williams deployed multiple times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Juniper Shield serving in numerous positions, including weapons sergeant, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A); senior weapons sergeant, Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A); senior weapons sergeant, Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A); senior instructor/writer Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group; senior weapons sergeant, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A); and operations sergeant, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd SFG (A).
Master Leader Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape; Special Forces Qualification Course; the Defense Language Institute’s French Course; Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course; Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Exploitation Course; Basic instructor Training and Small Group Instructor Training.
Williams’ awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and four Loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral “4,” Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “3,” Valorous Unit Award, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Special Forces Tab.
Williams resides in North Carolina with his wife and son. He received the MOH from President Trump on 30th October 2019.
Williams was part of an assault element consisting of several American Soldiers and a larger Afghan commando force, who were inserted by helicopter into a location in Nuristan Province. As they were moving up a mountain toward their objective, they were engaged by intense enemy machine guns, snipers and rocket-propelled grenades.
The lead portion of the assault element, which included the ground commander, sustained several casualties and was pinned down on the mountainside. While this was going on, Williams and the rest of the trailing portion of the assault element were forced to take cover as they began to receive intense enemy fire. Insurgent fighters had the entire assault element pinned down.
As the Afghan commandos and American Soldiers desperately engaged the enemy, Williams heard that the lead element had sustained several casualties and was in danger of being overrun. He immediately gathered the commandos around him while braving intense enemy fire and led a counterattack across a 100-meter long valley of ice-covered boulders and a fast-moving, ice-cold, waist-deep river.
After leading his commandos up the mountainside to the besieged element, Williams arrayed his Afghan commandos to provide suppressive fire to keep the insurgents from overrunning the position.
As Williams worked to defend his position, his team sergeant, Master Sgt. Scott Ford, was hit by a sniper round. Once again, Williams braved intense enemy fire to provide Ford first aid and moved him down the sheer mountainside to the casualty collection point.
Then, knowing the commandos and his fellow Soldiers were still in danger, Williams fought and climbed his way back up the mountainside, under enemy fire, to help defend the lead assault element, which still had several serious casualties to evacuate. Upon reaching the lead element, he provided suppressing fire, killing several insurgents, before once again exposing himself to enemy fire in order to move to the element’s satellite radio and reestablish their communications capability. Williams then continued to expose himself to enemy fire as he assisted moving the wounded down the mountainside to the casualty collection point.
After Williams reached the casualty collection point with three wounded Soldiers, enemy fighters began maneuvering to overrun their position, putting the lives of the wounded and those caring for them at risk.
Realizing the danger to the wounded, Williams again led the Afghan commandos in a counterattack and fought for several hours against the insurgents, keeping them at bay until helicopters arrived to evacuate the wounded.
Again and again, as the wounded were being evacuated, Williams exposed himself to enemy fire while carrying and loading casualties onto the helicopters. He then continued to suppress numerous insurgent positions by directing commando fires, which allowed the patrol to evacuate the wounded and the dead without further casualties.
Master Sgt. Williams’ actions exemplify of leadership under fire. His ability to take initiative, successfully command troops pinned down in an ambush, and disregard his own safety to protect his commandos and fellow Soldiers saved numerous lives and prevented his element from being overrun.
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