Ward recalls military experiences, life lessons

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ask most any veteran today what their most memorable moment was while serving in the United States&8217; Military and you&8217;ll likely get a tale of how that one airman took off at 2 a.m. that cold, winter morning just to fly for the hell of it.

Ask another and he&8217;ll tell you of the courageous efforts of his battalion.

And still another will tell you of that time the German jumped down in the foxhole with him.

And then, like magic, he produces the blade he used to save his life that day&8230;that&8217;s the story of my great-grandfather.

There is nothing wrong with these &8216;good ole war stories&8217;. We all enjoy hearing them now and again, whether it&8217;s for a good laugh, a couple of tears or an ego-booster.

However, ask retired U.S. Army Col. Bill Ward, who was in the 131st Military Intelligence Unit, about his fondest memory and he&8217;ll respond without hesitation, &8220;The friendships made.&8221;

I had the opportunity to sit down with Ward this last week and reminisce with him on his year served in Vietnam.

Those people included Gene Williams, Van Hulen and Jack Brunson.

Ward went on to mention a more recent conversation had with one of his good friends, Gene Williams. After putting his e-mail address on the unit Web site, Ward received and e-mail from Williams asking him to call him, and Williams gave his telephone number.

Ward said Williams&8217; response was, &8220;Well if God exists, why did he let this happen to Jack?&8221;

Ward said, &8220;Well Gene, if God exists, how do you think he would judge you? I know what Jack thought&8230;he was prepared for any judgment.

Afterwards, Ward said he shrugged his shoulders and told him that, &8220;&8230;only you can make that call.&8221;

As the conversation between the two progressed, Williams went on to mention that it was because of that question that he is a Christian today.

During his year of service, Aug. 1971 to Aug. 1972, Ward said possibly the most rewarding experience was having the honor of leading a comrade to Christ.

After seven years in the Army, Ward went back into the National Guard and went to Troy State to school. He received his master&8217;s degree at Troy, he went on to the University of Alabama to pursue his Ph.D. in

administration of higher education.

Ward&8217;s two sons are both following in their father&8217;s footsteps.

When asked about his grandchildren, Ward said, &8220;You know they&8217;re the joy of my life. Audrey-Kate is ten, Meredith will soon be eight, and Anne-Everette will be four in January.&8221;

However, Ward said his real joy is Mary, his wife of 42 years. &8220;We were married on June 30, 1965.&8221;

Ward retired from the Army as a Full Colonel. One of the highlights of his career was being inducted into the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame, along with a good friend and Demopolis native, Col. Tom Boggs.

Ward now teaches at the University of West Alabama. He and his wife, Mary, live in Livingston.

The couple has decided to retire here. Not to sound clich/, but, &8220;There really is something about this place. It just kind of sucks you in,&8221; said Ward.