Vice Admiral Joe Williams, Jr.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute


Vice Admiral Williams entered boot camp in 1940 and then went through machinist's mate school at the Ford Motor Company. He served 1941-44 in the seaplane tender Matagorda (AVP-22), advancing from fireman to chief machinist's mate. In 1944 he was commissioned an ensign and went through a number of combat landings in the Pacific on board the rocket-equipped LCI(R)-225. In 1945 he became her skipper. Tours of duty later in the 1940s: the Columbia River Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, the destroyer Robert L. Wilson (DD-847), and Submarine School. In the 1950s he fit in studies at the University of California at Berkeley among tours on board the submarines Ronquil (SS-396), Icefish (SS-367), Bashaw (SSK-241), and Bluegill (SSK-242). He commanded the latter during intelligence operations in the North Pacific. He also spent a year as a student at the Naval War College and was picked by Admiral Hyman Rickover for the Navy's nuclear power course, even though he didn't yet have a college degree. In the early 1960s he put two ballistic missile submarines into commission as skipper, the Robert E. Lee (SSBN-601) and George Bancroft (SSBN-643). He served from 1966 to 1968 as deputy director of the Special Projects Office and later led a study group that developed plans for the Los Angeles (SSN-688)-class submarines. After serving as chief of staff to ComSubLant, Vice Admiral E. P. Wilkinson, Williams was selected for flag rank. In 1973-74 he commanded the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and from 1974 to 1977 served as Commander Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet. In retirement he worked for the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics