RALPH CLAYTON WILLIAMS, Lt Col USAF, Ret passed away February 20, 2015. Funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 p.m. Sunday February 22, 2015 in the chapel of Starrett Funeral Home with Rev. Mike Fortenberry officiating. Interment will follow in Providence Cemetery.
He was born in Mt Olive, Illinois January 5, 1920; youngest of six children born to Anna Ruth Ritter and Manson Edgar Williams. Growing up in Palmer, Illinois he then graduated from Illinois State College in June of 1941. The following September he and his best friend, Loren Kerns, joined the Army Air Corps. He completed Weather Observers School in early January 1942, signed up for Aviation Cadet Training and was sent to Kelley field San Antonio, Texas while awaiting assignments. He was then shipped to Lou Foote Flying School, Stamford, Texas (Arledge Field) for primary training in a PT-19A Fairchild. From Texas he was transferred to Perrin Field, Sherman, Texas for training in a BT-13A and instrument training in a Link trainer. He received advanced training at Foster Field, Victoria, Texas in the famous North American AT-6 for formation flying, ground and low target gunnery, instrument and night flying as a 2nd Lt. After training he was ordered to report to Columbia Army Air Base at Columbia, South Carolina, assigned to the 486th Bomb sq., 340th Bomb GP a newly organized B25 medium bombardment unit just entering operational training; the same type airplane used by Lt. Col. Doolittle's squadron on the Tokyo raid. In 1943, his squadron was booked on the U.S.S. America, a 32000 ton luxury liner converted to a troopship that took them to El Kabrit, Eqypt. His squadron was then sent to North Africa to support the British 8th Army in driving the Germans out. His tour of duty took him to French North Africa; Benina, Libyia; Castel Benito, Libyia; and Medinine, Tunisia, Algiers, and Sicily; assigned to the 57th Bomb Wing, commanded by BGen. Robert Knapp. His 50 combat missions with the 486th Bomb Squad earned him the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, the North Africa, Middle East and European theater medal with 3 battle stars, for North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
In 1944, he met and married Norma Jean Stubblefield at Tinker Air Force Base in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1962, he was the director of personnel for the Detroit Air Defense Sector headquarters. He retired from the Air Force in 1963 after serving at Fort Custer Air Force Base, Battle Creek, Michigan. They then established Pic-a-tic Ranch in Valley Springs Arkansas. While living in Valley Springs he became the Plant Superintendent of Claridge Products, Harrison, Arkansas. In 1980, he and his wife sold the farm and moved to San Antonio and later in 1985, they moved to Paris Texas. He loved his family and was very active in his children's and grandchildren's lives. He is survived by a son, Carroll Clayton Williams, Paris,Texas; Kandice Kay Pryor and husband Don Pryor, Paris, Texas; granddaughters; Stacey Ludlow, and husband Sean Ludlow, Mustang, Oklahoma; Lee Ann Watts and husband Charlie Watts, San Antonio, Texas; Traci Watkins and husband Harold Watkins Melissa, Texas; Staci Christian and husband Terry Christian, Paris, Texas; and Angi Cox, McKinney, Texas. Great grandchildren are Logan Fountain, Dillon Ludlow, Doryn Ludlow, Caitlin Ludlow, Emily Watts, Rachel Watts, Korbin Hamner, Katlyn Watkins, Easton Mercik, Ryan Hatcher and Blain Hatcher.
He was preceded in death by his wife in 1997 and his grandson Shane Fountain in 1998.
Serving as pallbearers will be Logan Fountain, Stacy Hatcher, Terry Christian, Harold Watkins, Dillon Ludlow, and Charlie Watts.