Dwayne E. Williams – Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
August 25, 2006

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Dwayne E. Williams, 28, of Baltimore, Maryland, died August 24, 2006, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

Marine leaves legacy of devotion, service

By Nicole Fuller
Courtesy of the Sun Sentinel
September 7, 2006

Yesterday's funeral for a hero of the war in Iraq echoed with jubilant church songs and the cries of a young boy for his father.

Malachi E. Williams, 4, cried at the start of the service for his father, Staff Sergeaqnt Dwayne E. Williams, in the chapel at the March Funeral Home in Northwest Baltimore, where 30 pews were filled by mourners for the Marine killed two weeks ago while trying to dismantle a bomb.


The Sergeant's mother, Florence Brenda Williams Randall, also sobbed as she was presented with his Purple Heart – the medal awarded to those wounded or killed in action.

And some of the two dozen uniformed Marines who stood so stoically as they saluted his casket emerged from the chapel with downcast stares, some with watery eyes.

Sergeant Williams, 28, a graduate of Fairmont-Harford High School, was raised in North Baltimore and Edmondson Village but most recently lived in Havelock, North Carolina, with his wife, La'Star Williams, and their son, Malachi.

A member of an elite explosive ordnance disposal team who was awarded the Bronze Star for his skill, he died in Iraq's Al Anbar province Aug 24,2006. He will be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Dwayne had a mild-mannered personality with a quiet strength,” said his cousin, Shirley Richards, reading from a printed obituary during the service. “He always had a positive word or smile to offer. Dwayne was known to joke or find the humor in every situation.”

He was eulogized as a man dedicated equally to his family and his military service, using his relationship with God to soldier through three tours in Iraq – under some of the most strenuous circumstances.

Just a few weeks before his death, he suffered three concussions when bombs detonated near him.

His legacy, said the Rev. Thomas Rich of River of Life Christian Center in Camp Springs, will be of a man who stood strong in the face of adversity.

“Imagine being called to go into areas that most people are looking to avoid, with courage and faith,” Mr. Rich said. “This brother was so humble that he took on a task in life that was dangerous, so phenomenal, so incredible, but he never even talked about it.”

In calls home to his wife, Sergeant Williams was always reassuring of his safety, Mr. Rich said of the Marine who years before had dedicated himself to God and sang in his church choir.

“No matter what was going on, you still had your way of calling home and making me laugh as if it were just a breeze,” his wife wrote in remarks also read at the service.

“When he would talk to his beautiful wife, he would say, ‘I don't know what tomorrow holds, but you must pray and thank God everyday when you get up,'” Mr. Rich said.

In January 2005, he was chosen to help the Secret Service check for explosives during President Bush's inauguration. Since June, Sergeant Williams and his team of explosive ordnance disposal technicians – based at Camp Taqaddum in central Iraq – went on more than 100 missions. He had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1997.

One of his comrades, Master Sergeant Hal White, also addressed the mourners – and explained why he had to read it from a sheet of paper.

“Dwayne was a really good friend of mine, so I'm going to read this or else I might not get through,” Sergeant White said.

The two met in December 2002 in Kuwait while preparing to head to Iraq. Together they lived out of a truck and weathered sandstorms, developing a bond.

“He was my go-to guy for anything,” White said. “He was what I called the golden child, because he could do no wrong in my eyes.”

Malachi Williams points to the casket of his father, Staff Sergeant Dwayne Williams, as his mother, La'Star (right), tries to comfort him

Two Laid to Rest Had Beaten the Odds

Baltimore Marine Was on Third Tour; N.H. Soldier Suffered Apparent Heart Attack
By Megan Greenwell
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, September 8, 2006

Marine Staff Sergeant Dwayne E. Williams had survived three concussions from dismantling hundreds of roadside bombs in Iraq. Army Specialist Matthew E. Schneider had overcome a heart condition that a doctor said would kill him before he was a toddler.

The Marine and the soldier who were used to beating the odds were buried near each other at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday.

Mourners show support during a prayer at the burial of Marine Staff Sergeant Dwayne E. Williams, 28, of Baltimore, who died August 24, 2006, while dismantling a roadside bomb, a feat for which he had already been awarded a Bronze Star. Williams is survived by his wife, LaStar, and 4-year-old son, Malachi.

Williams, a 28-year-old Baltimore native, was dismantling yet another improvised explosive device — a feat for which he had already been awarded a Bronze Star — in Anbar province on August 24, 2006, when the device exploded, killing him and another soldier.

Schneider, a 23-year-old from Gorham, New Hampshire, was relaxing on his bunk in Ramadi when he suffered an apparent heart attack August 28, 2006.

At services yesterday, Williams's wife, LaStar, and 4-year-old son, Malachi, received a flag from a Marine sergeant to honor his contributions to the war. As a bugler played taps, family members and friends huddled, never removing their eyes from the flag-draped coffin.

“What made me cry is now his son won't have a father, like Dwayne didn't have a father,” said Melissa Manning, a cousin of Williams's who said their relationship was more like brother and sister. “He was trying to be a good dad, and that's what I'm mad about.”

She said that Williams had grown up in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore but stayed away from gangs and drugs because he knew they would interfere with his goals.

Although dismantling bombs is among the most dangerous assignments in Iraq, Williams thrived on it, family members said. He came from a family of military veterans dating to World War I and had long planned to enter the service before enlisting nine years ago. He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq, and his family was anticipating his return to the United States later this month.

“I don't support war, so I didn't want him to go,” Manning said. “But he thought it would be a good opportunity to go to school and to see the world and to do something important. That's the promise that the Marines give.”

In the face of war, Williams relied on the love of his family and God to stay strong, she said. He called his mother every day and wrote lengthy e-mails that were posted on a family Web site. He saved the lives of his comrades at least once, screaming to them to take cover after he disconnected one bomb only to find another nearby.

“I found another device set as a trap for us. I yelled ‘IED' so others could run,” he wrote. “Four Marines including myself were within the blast radius of this item. The Lord is good.”

An only child, Williams was especially close to his extended family. He lived with Manning for two years before being deployed to Iraq, she said.

“We liked to joke with each other, go out to eat, go see movies,” she said. “He was so gifted at building things, drawing and all sorts of things. If I needed something fixed, he could fix it, and he was so down-to-earth.”

Less than 30 minutes after Williams was buried, Schneider's family arrived at the same section of the cemetery to bury their son and brother. A Mormon chaplain praised the young man's desire to help people, whether Americans or Iraqis.

“We're here to honor Matthew's devotion to duty,” he said.

The chaplain told the assembled crowd about a time when Schneider came upon a woman whose purse had been stolen. Without thinking twice, Schneider went to the nearest ATM and withdrew $200 to give to the woman, he said.

A technological whiz, Schneider spent his spare time in Iraq setting up high-speed Internet connections for about 80 soldiers. His job was to maintain communication with those on the front lines, and he planned to reenlist in the military as an information technology specialist.

Williams and Schneider are the 260th and 261st military personnel killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

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