Georgia State Defense Force photo by Pvt. Taryn Evans
U.S. Army Veteran Served 16 years in the Georgia State Defense Force
By 2nd Lt. Beverly Shepard
After 16 years of service to the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF), Col. Eddie Williams recently retired amid a showering of awards, gifts, and accolades.
Col. Williams, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, has a military career spanning 30 years. His service in the GSDF involved various roles: Recruiting Officer, Public Affairs Office Chief, Commander of Operations Company, Executive Officer, then Commander of the 911th Support Battalion, and most recently, Commander of the 76th Support Brigade.
“He was a true leader,” said Lt. Col. Ismael Rodriguez, Acting Commander of the 76th Support Brigade, who, in quoting U.S. Army General Douglas McArthur, added of Col. Williams, “He had the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”
Col. Eddie Williams retires from the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF), February 6, 2021. During a GSDF service that spanned 16 years, he held many roles, including Recruiting Officer, Public Affairs Office Chief, Commander of Operations Company, Executive Officer, Commander of the 911th Support Battalion, and most recently, Commander of the 76th Support Brigade.
Col. Williams bid farewell to the GSDF headquarters staff in Marietta Ga. and to the 76th Support Brigade troops at their headquarters on the Kennesaw State University–Marietta campus. His retirement ceremony comments included reciting a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
For his retirement, the GSDF presented Col. Williams a Legion of Merit medal. The Legion of Merit medal was authorized by Congress in 1942. It is awarded to those in key positions of responsibility and power for their service and achievements.
The 76th Support Brigade’s Officers, NCOs, and troops presented him an officer’s saber, a framed brigade guidon, a plaque of appreciation, and other gifts and mementos.
“I’m definitely going to miss him,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Ulmer, who has been in the 76th Support Brigade since the unit’s inception approximately a decade ago. “It was probably one of the best relationships with a commander that a command sergeant major could ever have.”
Col. Williams was born in Nurnberg, Germany while his father, a U.S. Army noncomissioned officer, was stationed there. During his service in the U.S. Army, Col. Williams was an Airborne, Ranger, and Green Beret. In the Army, he earned numerous military awards and skill badges, including the Ranger tab, Special Forces tab, Jump Master wings, Pathfinder badge, and numerous U.S. Army ribbons.
Col. Eddie Williams (right) stands with the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) 76th Support Brigade in a formation during GSDF annual training, Air Dominance Center, Savannah, Ga., October 7, 2018.
Georgia State Defense Force photo by Warrant Officer Alexander Davidson
A Man of Many Missions
Col. Williams participated in various GSDF missions, including Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Rita (2005), Meredith Emerson SAR (2008), Haiti Earthquake (Operation Healing Hands) (2010), Barnesville Tornado (2011), Hurricane Matthew (2016), Hurricane Maria (2017), Hurricane Michael (2018) and COVID-19 Response (2020).
In addition to the Legion of Merit medal, Col. Williams earned numerous GSDF honors and awards during his more than three decades of GSDF service. These included aDistinguished Service Medal, a Commendation Medal, and an Outstanding Unit Citation Ribbon (with Gold Frame).
Service On and Off the Field
In 2015, Col. Williams was among those Soldiers then Georgia National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip A. Stringfield, recognized for their assistance and dedication to Star Behavioral Health Providers, a program established to educate clinicians so they could help support military service members and families before, during, and post deployment. These Soldiers volunteered their time to conduct numerous full-day detailed presentations on U.S. military culture and deployment cycles to Georgia-based therapists, clinicians, counselors, and psychologists.
Col. Eddie Williams speaks about the Georgia State Defense Force before the Rotary Club in Vinings, Ga., July 10, 2015.
Photo courtesy of The Georgian Club
Col. Williams was dedicated to promoting the GSDF message. His many appearances included those before the Rotary Club, and other community organizations throughout his career.
During his service, Col. Williams frequently greeted new GSDF recruits during military intake processing. He would commit the name of a private to memory after only one introduction. Those who know him say that his military presence commanded attention, while his personality brought warmth and laughter to a room.
After GSDF Retirement
After his GSDF retirement, Col. Williams plans to continue pursuing his professional vocations, running his own company as a leadership and management trainer, and working with a local information technology company with clients nationwide.
“Old Soldiers never die. They just fade away,” Col. Williams said in parting, quoting from U.S. Army General Douglas McArthur, also a West Point alumnus. “I now close my military career as a Soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave me the light to see that duty.”
Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) Soldiers gather for the retirement of Col. Eddie Williams, February 6, 2021. During a GSDF service that spanned 16 years, Col. Williams held many roles, including Recruiting Officer, Public Affairs Office Chief, Commander of Operations Company, Executive Officer, Commander of the 911th Support Battalion, and most recently, Commander of the 76th Support Brigade. Col. Williams is a U.S. Army Veteran.
Georgia State Defense Force photo
Motivational Speaker, Trainer, Facilitator, and Author
(Courtesy of E&M Williams Consulting Group, LLC.)
Col. Williams is the managing partner of E&M Williams Consulting Group, LLC. For more than 20 years, he has conducted presentations on such topics as communication, effective listening, time management, stress management, emotional intelligence, negotiation, team building, resiliency, self-esteem, and leadership. His clients have included AFLAC, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Sherwin-Williams, FedEx, MetLife, The Coca-Cola Company, U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as numerous school systems, civic organizations, and industry-specific associations across the country.
Col. Williams is author of the book, “Son of a Soldier: Success is not a Snapshot of Where You Are, but Measured by the Obstacles You’ve Overcome.” He holds an MBA from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., a suburb of metro Atlanta.