History Wars Afghanistan War

MoH Monday: Master Sergeant Matthew Williams

Master Sergeant Matthew Williams is a member of the United States Army and a recipient of the Armed Forces' prestigious Medal of Honor.
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Master Sergeant Matthew Williams moh

Master Sergeant Matthew Williams is a member of the United States Army and a recipient of the Armed Forces’ prestigious Medal of Honor.


Williams was born near the small town of Boerne, Texas, on October 3, 1981. After completing high school, he attended Angelo State University, where he earned a degree in criminal justice. His initial ambition was to work as a detective for the FBI. However, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he became interested in military service. He joined the Army in 2005, attending Basic Airborne Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He then underwent an assessment and training to join Special Forces and eventually became a sergeant.

Williams joined Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, Company C, 3rd Battalion, Special Operations Task Force-33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, and in 2008, he deployed to Afghanistan to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom. There, he showcased exceptional bravery and earned his Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Action

On August 6, 2008, Master Sergeant Williams was part of a critical mission in the Shok Valley of Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. Task Force 3336, with Williams as a member, received an assignment to capture or eliminate a high-ranking member of the infamous terrorist group Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin.

After being airlifted to the area, Williams and his comrades set out on a steep mountain ascent in search of the target. Sadly, enemy snipers spotted them and started firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The front of the formation took heavy casualties, including the operation commander.

In the face of overwhelming odds, Williams rallied the survivors and led a counterattack against the enemy. Tragically, Sergeant Scott Ford was hit during the assault. Without hesitation, Williams ran into enemy fire, grabbed Ford, and carried him to safety down the side of the mountain. He then returned to the fight, braving enemy fire, to retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades. He also fired on the enemy snipers, disarming many of them and forcing them to retreat up the mountain.

master sergeant matthew williams medal of honor
Medal of Honor recipient, Master Sergeant Matthew Williams, renders a salute during the playing of the National Anthem before the 2019 Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 14, 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dana Clarke)

The Battle Rages

With the battle raging on, Williams made his way to the task force’s satellite radio and established communication with headquarters. He requested backup, and despite the ongoing fight, he rescued several wounded soldiers and recovered numerous casualties. He worked tirelessly, dodging enemy fire and putting himself in harm’s way to save the lives of his fellow service members.

Finally, evacuation helicopters arrived, and the battle ended. However, the bravery and selflessness displayed by Sergeant Williams will never be forgotten. He put the lives of others before his own, showing unwavering courage in the face of danger.

On October 30, 2019, President Donald Trump presented Williams with his Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. Williams continues to serve in the United States Army.