Based: Ft. Lewis, Wash.
5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) 2nd Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: April 8, 2007
Baqubah (died in Balad), Iraq
Married, 1 child
Hometown: Santa Rosa
High School: Santa Rosa High (Santa Rosa)
Burial: Santa Rosa Memorial Park, Santa Rosa, Calif.
In a letter to his father, meant to be read in the event of his death, Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, 25, wrote: "Don't let me be forgotten in Santa Rosa.... Tell them I died for you and them."
Since Williams was killed on Easter Sunday by a sniper in Iraq, his wish has been granted again and again.
Hundreds of people lined U.S. Highway 101 to pay tribute as a hearse carrying his body traveled 70 miles in a motorcade from San Francisco International Airport to Santa Rosa, Calif. Later, more than 1,000 attended his memorial service.
And on Memorial Day, his father, Herb, a political consultant, gave a keynote speech at an event honoring soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the country.
"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," he said. "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."
Herb Williams, who reared Jesse, his youngest, as a single father, recalled that his son was always bringing home new friends for him to meet.
"He didn't know a stranger," he said.
Jesse Williams and his father were exceptionally close, communicating with each other almost every day, even when Jesse was away.
When Jesse was very young, his father made up a ditty: "I love Jesse and Jesse loves me and we are as happy as we can be."
When he sang, his son would respond "doo-wah, doo-wah, doo-wah." When Jesse sang, his father did the "doo-wah" refrain.
The day before Williams left for Iraq, he wrote the ditty on the white board in his father's office. He also left a video disc in case he did not make it back home.
"The last thing he did on the disc was to sing me the 'doo-wah' song," Herb Williams said.
Now, his daughter-in-law sings the song to his granddaughter.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Staff Sergeant Jesse L. Williams here,