Alexander S. Williams – Colonel, United States Marine Corps

WASHINGTON, October 1, 1926 – Colonel Alexander S. Williams will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors it was announced today at the Navy Department.  The date of the funeral has not been fixed.

Colonel Williams was born in New York City on August 28, 1877, and commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on October 2, 1899.  He had seen considerable service outside the United States, being stationed at various times in the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico, Panama and Haiti.

In 1901 he took part in an expedition to the Island of Samar, Philippines, participating in several engagements with the natives.  He was a member of a battalion of Marines organized in 1902 for service on the Isthmus of Panama and, in 1906 performed a short tour of service with the American forces in Cuba.  Two years later he returned to Panama with the Expeditionary Forces and in 1909 was again sent to the Philippines for a further period of two years.

In April 1914, he participated in the engagement and occupation of Vera Cruz during the Mexican disturbance and the following year he commanded the Twenty-Second Company of the First Regiment of Marines at Haiti.  While on this station he also acted an Assistant to the Commandant of the Constabulary and in May 1918, succeeded Colonel Smedley Butler to the post of Chief of the Gendarmerie.  He was decorated with the Medaille Miliraure by the President of Haiti in recognition of his services in that country.

He served on the staff of the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1922-23. In July 1923, he was assigned to the Second Brigade of Marines in Santo Domingo, where he remained until August 1924.  One his return to the United States he was dispatched to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego, in charge of the Fourth Regiment.

Such was his post when, last March, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, having resigned as Director of Public Safety in Philadelphia, where he had been active against prohibition law violators, assumed command of the Marine Base at San Diego.  Colonel Williams gave a dinner and reception in General Butler’s honor.  A few days afterward General Butler charged his host with serving cocktails at the dinner and with intoxication and conduct unbecoming an officer, at a hotel following the dinner.

The charges created an intense feeling the Navy and Marine circles.  General Butler being accused of violating the code of a guest.  A court-martial followed and some witnesses testified that they believed that Colonel Williams has been ill and not intoxicated.

Colonel Williams was found guilty on the charge of “drunkenness,” although acquitted on the other accounts, and was demoted four numbers in grade and transferred to San Francisco.  General Butler was also transferred to San Francisco later.

Friends of Marine Colonel Believe He Lost His Way in Unknown Streets

SAN FRANCISCO, October 2, 1926 – The funeral of Colonel Alexander S. Williams of the Marine Corps, who plunged to his death in San Francisco Bay in a closed automobile Thursday night, will be held Tuesday at a local mortuary establishment.  The body will be taken to Washington by Mrs. Williams, where it will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Military friends of Colonel Williams today advanced a new theory to explain his mysterious death.  The Colonel was noted for the fact that he had a poorly developed sense of direction preparation and study of maps, his made, no matter how short.

They believe he became confused while trying to find his way through the embarcadero and turned toward the piers in the belief that he was entering a street.

Colonel Williams was skilled in the preparation and study of maps, his friends said, and had come to rely on them solely for every trip that he made, no matter how short.
Naval Inquiry Is Said to Have Concluded That Auto Mishap Was a ‘Clean Accident’

SAN FRANCISCO, October 5, 1926 – The Examiner newspaper says a Naval Board of Inquiry yesterday determined that the death of Colonel Alexander S. Williams, who plunged into San Francisco Bay last Thursday night in his automobile, was a “clean accident” and “in the line of duty.”

The Board, it was reported, on examination of the steering gear of Colonel Williams’ automobile, found it was warped to such an extent that it would tend to pull to car to the left, and this factor, together with the confusion of passing trains, caused the Colonel accidentally to run his car into the bay.

The official report of the inquiry must go to Washington, and service regulations prohibit any public announcement of findings by the board at this time.

Private funeral services will be held here today and the body will be sent to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. for burial.

DATE OF DEATH: 09/30/1926

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