PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
The following Reflection represents HM2 Neath Williams’s legacy of their military service from 1999 to 2022. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.
Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?
“You did what? Why?” That’s the question I got from my family and friends. I don’t think I had a simple answer for them at the time. I don’t think anyone who knew me in high school expected me to join the military. I don’t remember considering it an option; then again, I swam competitively 4 days a week at the local university and never considered going to college there. I just wasn’t a kid with a lot of foresight, especially in high school. I was coming up on graduation in 1999, and I knew I was expected to do something, but what that was, I wasn’t sure. I’ll never forget the day the recruiters started showing up in our cafeteria. Their uniforms pressed perfectly, their size, posture, tattoos, and overall confidence. They would always hand out stress balls or little nylon backpacks, and if you stopped and chatted with them for a bit, you might score a t-shirt or ball cap emblazoned with “Let the Journey begin,” GO NAVY or USMC or ARMY. Now, I can’t speak for the other kids in my class, but I didn’t have ties to the military. I had no idea about the differences between the Navy and the Marine Corps, let alone any of the other branches. With over 20 years of military service on my resume, now, I’d like to tell you that I did some research or deep soul-searching to make a decision about which branch to join. Still, if I’m being honest, the Navy recruiter was the coolest and most persistent out of them all, so I chose to let the journey begin and begin it did!
I’m lucky those recruiters showed up and recognized a lost sheep when they saw one. I needed direction, leadership, guidance, and adventure, and I got it all. Over my 20+ year career, I experienced so many incredible things and made memories for many lifetimes, some good and some not so good, but all memorable and impactful. More than anything, I miss being on the boats, the smell of the diesel fuel mixing with the river water, and the mist in your face as we got up to speed. Whether it was the Cape Fear river in North Carolina or the Euphrates in Iraq, I loved it being on patrol. Still, to this day, whenever I take a water taxi, the sweet smelly fuel and river mixture takes me right back. There aren’t too many days that go by now that I feel as strong and capable as I did back then, but I’m fortunate to be here. I’ll never forget my combat experiences and the guys that I shared it with. Another treasured memory is being down range and giving some basic medical care to some locals in Iraq while they shared with us homemade Chai. I could go on and on and probably fill a book of memories, but taking care of my guys and being on patrol in those boats are the most cherished memories. When my friends and family ask me now, “You did what? Why?” I tell them my stories; I tell them about my glory days.