POWDER SPRINGS, GA — Although September 11 is a date many will not forget, for one Powder Springs man this day in history marks a personal milestone. A century ago on September 11, 1919, former Army Master Sergeant Hugh G. Williams was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The son of a prominent physician and a vivacious school teacher, Williams was a student at Lincoln University when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He received his draft notice during Christmas vacation.
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Weeks later he boarded a bus ride to begin basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In November 1942, he traveled to Denver and married his college sweetheart, Rebenta Morton. The newlyweds spent their first year of married life stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. In 1944 when the USS Mann set sail from Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Williams was aboard, headed for Oran, Algeria. He still remembers the agonizing weeks of sea sickness. “I’ll never get on a ship again!” he said.
When the Army’s Second Division Calvary of black soldiers set foot on shore, ready to fight, the horses they were promised never arrived. Instead, these soldiers were delegated to serve as cooks, supply clerks, and drivers. Their days were spent digging trenches for foxholes. African American soldiers in Williams’ unit were not issued weapons. Unarmed, when enemy shooting began, they could do little but duck and pray.