John Ray “Chipper” Williams was born January 27, 1947 in Marlinton, W.Va. He was the son of Drylia and Nellie Kellison Williams. He grew up on the 1000 block of Second Avenue and attended Marlinton Grade School. This school photo was taken when he was nine years old and the letter to Santa was written on November 22, 1955. It reads:
I am writing you early this year to tell you what to bring me this year. I am nearly nine years old and I go to school every day.
I am in the 4th grade and I like school very much.
I would like a football, a baseball glove (I throw right handed so I would like a left handed glove) and an electric train set most of all.
If you don’t have them you can get them at Alden’s Store in Chicago.
If you need money write to me.
P.S. Thank you for what you brought me last year.”
Chipper was a junior at West Virginia University when he was inducted into the Army on September 15, 1967, a member of Company A, Second Battalion, Second Infantry of the First Division. He received his training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Polk, Louisiana, and left for Vietnam on March 7, 1968. In December, his mother was notified that Chipper, then a sergeant, had been missing near Da Nang, Vietnam, since Thanksgiving Day. It was subsequently learned that he had been wounded in combat on November 29, 1968, and later died of those wounds.
The body of Sgt. John Ray “Chipper” Williams was returned to the United States and in December 1968 was interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Marlinton.
(Photo and letter Courtesy of Sam Carpenter from the Betty Rogers Carpenter Estate , ID: PHP001838 and PHP001839)
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