Major Lloyd W. Williams
Major Lloyd W. Williams
Lloyd W. Williams, circa 1909
|Born||January 5, 1887|
|Died||June 12, 1918 (aged 31)|
|Place of burial|
Green Hill Cemetery, Berryville, Virginia
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Unit||2nd Battalion 5th Marines|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
|Awards||Silver Star (3)|
Early life and education
Lloyd W. Williams was born on June 5, 1887, in Berryville, Virginia. While very young, his family moved to Washington, DC. Williams attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) and graduated in 1907, as the captain of Alpha Company in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. After graduating, he became a second lieutenant of the United States Marine Corps on December 11, 1909.
World War One
During World War One, Captain Williams was assigned to command the division's 51st Company in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines Regiment.
On June 3, 1918, a division of Marines was sent to support the French army at the Battle of Belleau Wood. Lloyd Williams was serving as a company commander of 51st Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines. As the Marines arrived, they found French troops retreating. When advised to withdraw by a French colonel at the defensive line just north of the village of Lucy-le-Bocage, Williams bluntly replied: "Retreat, Hell! We just got here!" 
On June 11, 1918, Williams led an assault that routed the German defenders at Belleau Wood near Chateau-Thierry, France. Only 1 of the 10 officers and 16 of the 250 enlisted men survived or escaped injury. According to a French Major's report, after he ordered Williams to withdraw, Williams told him to "go to hell." Later, when Williams had been gassed and injured by shrapnel and lay wounded on the battlefield, he told the approaching medics, "Don't bother with me. Take care of my good men." He later died from a shell explosion as he was being evacuated.
- Captain Williams was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major.
- Williams received three Silver Star citations and a Purple Heart.
- He was recommended for two other awards: (the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross) by his commanding officer, Colonel Wise, but neither was granted.
- Major Williams is considered to be the first known Virginian to die in World War I.
- The U. S. Marine Corps' 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment adopted the motto: "Retreat, hell!", in honor of Major Williams. Fighting since 1914, the 2/5 marines is the most highly decorated battalion in marine history.
- On September 12, 1919, a new American Legion post in Berryville, Virginia was named in Williams' honor.
- In 1957, a new campus building at Lloyd's Alma Mater, Virginia Tech was named Major Williams Hall (a.k.a. "Major Bill") in his honor. The new building was a combination of 2 older barracks and originally functioned as both a corps and civilian student dormitory. In 1995, it was renovated and converted to academic offices for the history department in the College of Arts and Sciences.
- Clark, page 1.
- Clark, page 2.
- Ferrebee, Robert A. (December 11, 2014). ""Retreat, hell! We just got here."". www.legion.org. The American Legion. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
- Crocker(2006): 261.
- Clark, page 17.
- Szoldra, Paul (January 13, 2015). "The 9 Most Intense Unit Mottoes In The Marine Corps". www.businessinsider.com. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- Clark, George B. (1994). Retreat, Hell! We Just Got Here!: A Brief Biographical Sketch of Lloyd W. Williams. The Brass Hat. OCLC 40761782.
- Crocker, H.W. (2006). Don't Tread on me: A 400-year history of America at War, from Indian Fighting to Terrorist Hunting. Crown Forum. ISBN 1-4000-5363-3.