During Williams almost two-years onboard, the ship traversed the Atlantic Ocean 32 times providing destroyer escort protection against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys.
Seven escort vessels protected 150 ships. The Martin H. Ray made runs on German submarines.
“It got to be a routine thing. I was afraid the first time. After that it didn’t bother me. It was kind of a game,” Williams said. “There were times when we were on our battle stations as much as doing anything else. The Germans really weren’t after our vessels. What they were trying to do was penetrate our defensive lines.”
The local hero remained on the escort ship for longer than expected. Over one year aboard the same ship was hazardous duty.
Nintey percent of the crew was 18 or 19 year olds, according to Williams. All servicemen grew up fast to survive.
The boys told stories about home life during any down time. Faith came up in most conversations.
Williams believes a higher power kept the ship safe.
“Church was all we had and needed to do at home. That made a lot of difference in what you did when you went away like that. I truly believe that is the only reason we survived because we had a lot of Christians. We had one escort blown to pieces right behind us,” Williams said.
When the Martin H. Ray docked in Europe, wartime destruction was unimaginable. Buildings were leveled off and entire cities torn to shreds.
It was nothing to see a lifeless body lying in an Italian street. Williams is affected more years later than as a young man doing his duty.
“We didn’t think anything about it when we were doing it. I really enjoyed firing on planes because I didn’t think anything about the pilot,” Williams reflected. “I was thinking of taking the plane out. There is a lot of stuff I did that I wouldn’t like to do now.”