Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, of Santa Rosa, Calif., died April 8, 2007 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Baqubah, Iraq.  He was 25. Williams was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash. He was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and three Army Commendation Medals. The fallen soldier was survived by his wife Sonya, his daughter Amaya, his parents Herb Williams and Janyce Leone, and his siblings, Sean Williams, Patty Blaylock, Wendy Radwan, and Wade Mabery.

“I have grieved Jesse and will grieve him some more … but I shall celebrate him in my heart every day … not just on the last Monday in May,” said Jesse’s father, Herb Williams. “My son is but one of the fallen. His brothers and sisters are buried in cemeteries all over this globe. If we want to be worthy of their sacrifices … we should, we must, celebrate them all every day.”

The Travis Manion Foundation honored Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams through the Character Does Matter program on Oct. 18, 2011 when his story inspired 185 students at Germantown High School in Philadelphia, Pa. Cadets in the Air Force JROTC at Germantown High School completed over 1,700 of community service and invited Staff Sgt. Williams’ family to attend a special ceremony in honor of his service and sacrifice.

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