Willie Watkins was born on May 3, 1947, in Sumter, South Carolina. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 7, 1966, and completed basic training in December 1966. Cpl Watkins was then trained as an infantryman, and he deployed to South Vietnam in September 1967, where he served with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade from September 1967 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War in South Vietnam on January 9, 1968. After spending 667 days in captivity, he was released by his captors in Cambodia on November 5, 1969. After recovering from his injuries, Sgt Watkins left active duty on June 4, 1970, but reenlisted in the Army on July 21, 1970. He then attended Communication Center Specialist training, Avionics Flight Control Equipment Repairman training, and Radio Relay Carrier training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, from August 1970 to December 1971, followed by service with the 13th Signal Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas, from December 1971 to September 1972. His next assignment was with the 414th Signal Company at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, from September 1972 to October 1973, and then as a Radio Relay Team Chief with Battery A, 2nd Battalion of the 60th Air Defense Artillery Brigade in West Germany from October 1973 to December 1974. SSG Watkins served with Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion of the 60th Air Defense Artillery from December 1974 to December 1976, followed by service as an Instructor at the U.S. Army Signal School at Fort Gordon from December 1976 to January 1978. His next assignment was as Multi-Channel Communications Section Chief and Multi-Channel Platoon Sergeant with Company C and then E of the 67th Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon from January to October 1978, and then deployed to West Germany from October 1978 to September 1981. MSG Watkins' final assignment was as Circuit Control Sergeant, Operations Sergeant, and finally First Sergeant with Headquarters 327th Signal Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from October 1981 until his retirement from the Army on October 1, 1988.
I am an American Soldier.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.