Lloyd W. Williams

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Lloyd Williams
Born (1887-01-05)January 5, 1887
Berryville, Virginia
Died June 12, 1918(1918-06-12) (aged 31)
Chateau-Thierry, France
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Rank Major
Unit 2nd Battalion 5th Marines

Banana Wars

World War I

Awards 3 Silver Stars
Purple Heart

Lloyd W. Williams (June 5, 1887 – June 12, 1918) was an officer in the United States Marine Corps who served and died in World War I.

Early life[edit]

He was born on June 5, 1887 in Berryville, Virginia.[1] While very young, his family moved to Washington, DC.[2]


A member of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) class of 1907,[3] he was a member of Alpha Company in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He was elected to its office of Captain.[4] He received his appointment as a second lieutenant of the United States Marine Corps on December 11, 1909.[5]

Attribution of "Retreat? Hell, we just got here!"[edit]

A famous saying is attributed to Captain Williams, who was serving as a company commander in the 5th Marines. When advised to withdraw by a French officer at the defensive line just north of the village of Lucy-le-Bocage on June 1, 1918, he is said to have replied: "Retreat Hell! we just got here!"[6]


Captain Williams would not survive the ensuing battle. He was posthumously promoted to major. Colonel Wise recommended him for the Medal of Honor, but it was disapproved by the American Expeditionary Force high command with no commentary. Colonel Wise then recommended him for an Army decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross which was not granted. Williams did, however, receive three Silver Star citations.[7]


A building was named in Lloyd's memory at his Alma Mater, Virginia Tech and opened in 1957 ("Major Williams Hall" a.k.a. "Major Bill") . The building operated as a dorm until it was converted to an academic building in 1995. It is currently home to the history department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

He is also considered to be the first known person from Virginia to die in the First World War.


  1. ^ Clark, page 1.
  2. ^ Clark, page 1.
  3. ^ Clark, page 1.
  4. ^ Clark, page 2.
  5. ^ Clark, page 2.
  6. ^ Crocker(2006): 261.
  7. ^ Clark, page 17.


  • 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.