MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- After surviving the African sun for more than nine months, Master Sgt. Orville L. Williams, the former operations chief for Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, capped off a 24-year career when he was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal recently.
With 24 years of service in the Marine Corps under his belt, Williams credits his initial reason for enlisting to something that his grandmother told him. He agreed that the Marine Corps was better than cutting grass.
The ceremony was held at the Joint Operations Center aboard Camp Lemonier, a small U.S. military base in Djibouti, Africa. It was in this very center that Williams earned his award by ensuring the safety and security of more than 1,000 servicemembers from around the world.
He did this by managing numerous civil affair projects within the community. Williams developed and executed programs that enabled hundreds of staff personnel the opportunity to participate in these on-going projects.
In his own words, Williams said he ‘rebuilt, revamped, and reconstructed JOC operations.’
“I changed things like conducting security briefs and making sure that people accessing certain areas of the JOC had the proper clearance,” Williams said.
The task force’s mission is to detect, disrupt and defeat transnational terrorist groups operating in the region; denying safe havens, external support and material assistance for all terrorist activity.
“My main concern, along with the rest of the JOC, was for the African people within the CJTF-HOA region. A few years ago, terrorists would come into the region and create civil war among the locals. Then once the locals were weak from fighting each other, the terrorists would come in and take their land,” said Williams.
Operations outside the wire were key in gaining the trust of the community, said Williams.
Though the medal is definitely something to be proud of, Williams didn’t feel the need to be recognized for his role with the CJTF-HOA.
“We were there to aid the people in turning against the treacherous insurgents. Those that had nothing would hopefully have something to look forward to now: a future,” said Williams.