Fallen Hero SSGT Jesse Williams, United States Army

SSGT Jesse L. Williams

August 21, 1983 - December 17, 2013
United States Army

Army Staff Sargent Jesse Lee Williams of Elkhart, Indiana lost his life on December 17, 2013 in Afghanistan in a helicopter crash due to enemy fire. It was at that time one of the worst casualty incidents in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars. Five others died in the crash and a seventh person survived. Jesse was one of two Electronic Warfare Specialists on board. He had just been promoted to Staff Sargent a few weeks earlier, and according to people who served with him, he had worked hard for this well-deserved promotion. At a very emotional funeral fellow soldiers praised Jesse for his joyfulness, strong character, leadership qualities, and above all his good heart. Repeatedly they commented on the great love he had for his daughter Madison, and how he would flash this huge smile every time he spoke of her. All who knew Jesse knew that he was a terrific dad.

Jesse was born in Elkhart to Thomas I. Williams and Deborah M. (Bussard) Passerallo. There is a wonderful video where his mother Debbie, along with one of Jesse’s sisters, is interviewed. They tell about him so beautifully. (Worth looking up on Utube)! Evidently Jesse was a very smart little boy, always getting good grades and awards, and then he sort of ‘fell off’ in high school. Mom was not happy with some of his friendship choices, but Jesse kept these same friends always, and instead of them leading him astray, he helped bring them up into adulthood! States his mother, “When he was your friend, he was your friend forever.” As often happens, the military brought changes into Jesse’s life including maturity in mind and body. He loved physical training and became a big guy who could appear rough and tough, but also remained humble and caring. I could see this as I worked from photos to create Jesse’s portrait. It was my honor to paint him.

During his military career Jesse was deployed three times – once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. We will be forever indebted to Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams for the honorable and courageous service he willingly gave to his country. And we are also indebted to his family for their supreme sacrifice. Jesse was 30 years old.

Portrait sponsored by:
Wayne Wiskow, Trenton, IL