Joe D Willard
Entered Into Eternal Rest
Joe Don Willard, SMSgt, USAF, Ret. died on April 6, 2013 at the age of 82 as the result of a accidental fall.
Joe was born in Highpoint, NC to the late Charles E. and Ila Mae Jackson Willard. He was a retired Director of Quantico National Cemetery starting the upon its opening in 1983, veteran of the US Army and retired veteran of Combat Contol, and of the Baptist faith.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Charles Willard Jr.; sister Dorthy Ray Hornady. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Willard; sons Joe D. Willard Jr., of McMinnville and Mitchell Vance (Lesa) Willard of Murfreesboro; daughters, Cindy M. (Leroy) Groves of Murfreesboro, Debbie Kay (Jack) Sinkey of Cabot, AR, Josie Willard of Murfreesboro and Jess Willard (Clayton) Grayum of Murfreesboro; nine grandchildren; six great Grandchildren.
Joe was one of the first few Combat Controllers to attain the rank of Senior Master Sergeant during the late 1960’s while he was stationed at Travis AFB, CA. His first Combat Control assignment was at Sewart AFB, TN sometime between 1957-1962.
One time at Wilton DZ, I drove a rough terrain loader, for which I was not licensed, and overheated the engine, buried the needle in 100° CA temps.
I reported back to the section and Joe D picked up his beret and said "Accompany me". Glub!... We walked across the street to wing hq. and the Wing Commander's secretary announced us. Joe D reported for us, and I was asked for my story. No excuse, sir. The commander sent me back out, Joe D remained.
The secretary and I couldn't understand the words thru the door, but we could hear the volume of the exchange. It got quiet, then Joe D came out and said "Accompany me".
Back at the section, Joe D said the commander wanted to court marshall me, but Joe D said I was his problem and he would handle it. I drew one week (7) straight days of KP, repainted all of the equipment lockers, repainted the Aerial Delivery parachute packing lanes (2), and I missed a mile high staticline jump (that hurt the most).
After all that was done, Joe D formed the team and called me up front. I'll never forget, he said "We all know Collins screwed up, but from this time on, I (Joe D) don't want to hear any remarks or jokes about it" He said it's over and we will to move on."
I was never able to thank him on a personal level for what he had done for a young airman. I remembered Joe D and tried to emulate him and how he took care of "his" people, and more so when I made SMSgt.
Thanks Joe, for helping me grow up straighter.
By the way, FMC, manufacturer of the rough terrain loader, said all that happened was the seals were burned out, and I had subjected it to a tougher test than they ever had, nothing else was harmed.... Collapse