The Silver Star
O. Preston Williams, born 8 August 1942 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, graduated in 1964 from Arkansas State University with a B.S. degree in business administration and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army (In 1984, twenty years later, he completed an MBA). During his military career, he served five years in Germany, two tours in Vietnam, and three years as an ROTC instructor at Arkansas State University. He was promoted to Captain 1 January 1967 while serving as the assistant brigade S2, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. During May of that year, he was assigned as Commander of Company “C”, 3/22 Infantry Regiment. His unit experienced some of the hottest fighting of the Vietnam War. When he took command, C Company was a veteran outfit. When he left, his executive officers were a pair of 19 year old lieutenants with a few battle-tested NCO’s remaining. During his military service, Captain Williams earned airborne wings, a Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, a Vietnamese Staff Service Medal, a Purple Heart, four Bronze Star Medals, and the Silver Star for which his heroic actions are being honored here.
For nine straight days after taking command of Company C, he had engaged the enemy in numerous firefights in the Michelin Rubber Plantation and the famed “Iron Triangle”. On 6 June 1967, Captain Preston Williams, while serving as commander of Company C 3/22 Infantry, distinguished himself in a search and destroy mission north of Ben Cui Rubber Plantation. As two of his platoons were moving forward, they were suddenly hit by an estimated company size force, employing claymore mines, small arms, anti-tank rockets, and automatic weapons fire. Captain Williams immediately deployed three of his four platoons abreast for maximum firepower. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved from one position to another to effectively direct and evaluate supporting fire, including an air strike placed on entrenched enemy positions within 150 meters of his frontline platoons. Although completely exposed to the intense enemy fire, he continued pressing the attack, while maneuvering his company. During the intense two hour battle, Company C suffered 27 causalities or one-fourth of the rifle company. In spite of these losses, Company C successfully overran the enemy base camp, later identified as that of the 380th Viet Cong Training Regiment, Captain Williams’ gallant, heroic actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, reflecting great honor upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army. Currently employed as an instructor in the School of Business at ASU, Major Preston Williams is a certified Novell Network instructor and engineer.
NOTE: Oliver Stone, creator and director of the movie “Platoon” was a private in Company “A” of the 3rd during part of William’s company command. Most of the movie, with ample Hollywood padding, is based on real events from that period.