John Elliot Williams
When the U.S. Navy conducted so-called brown-water operations on the rivers and littorals of Vietnam, it vested a great deal of responsibility in a number of senior enlisted men, assigning them as officers-in-charge of patrol craft and, in some cases, patrol officers in charge of two or more river patrol craft (PBRs). Boatswain's Mate First Class John Elliot Williams was one of those men. Entrusted with a patrol of two PBRs (heavily armed, lightly armored Fiberglas boats), on 31 October 1966 he spotted two sampans loaded down with enemy soldiers on the My Tho River. The Americans gave chase and opened up with their forward machine guns, quickly sinking one of the enemy craft. But the other escaped into a canal too narrow for the Navy PBRs. Having studied the complicated system of waterways that laced the Mekong Delta, Williams left the main river, taking his patrol into that maze of streams and canals, determined to head the sampan off by an alternate route.