The Search for 'Willy': Marines looking for military buddy from Tyler

Published on Saturday, 9 November 2013 23:02 - Written by By Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

Two Marines are asking the public to help them reconnect with an old military buddy.

Marco Soto, of Sacramento, Calif., and George Spunar, of Exeter, Pa., served in Vietnam with the Alpha Company 1st Battalion 26th Marine Regiment, as did their friend, whom they called “Willy,” whose last name is Williams.

Soto said Williams, who is from Tyler, arrived in Vietnam in 1968, and he and Williams operated together in the northern part of South Vietnam for six or seven months. At the time, Soto was Williams’ squad leader.

“He was one of those guys who was real friendly. He always smiled,” Soto said.

He said Williams never drank liquor or beer, and when troops came in from the day, he opted for a soft drink.

“He was just a real friendly, gregarious type of guy,” he said. “We sat around and cracked jokes and played around.”

Around Thanksgiving 1968, Soto said, one of the guys in their squad was killed. After that, Soto said he became an ammunition technician until he returned home in January 1969.

Soto said he and Williams talked about where they lived but didn’t exchange addresses and phone numbers.

He said he’s been trying to find Williams off and on for about two or three years, and one setback is that Williams is such a common last name. He said he’s called several phone numbers but hasn’t been able to locate him. Additionally, he said, the squad’s medic, who died last year, also had been trying to look for Williams.

Soto and Spunar, who are in their 60s, said their goal now is to reconnect with Williams, whom Soto described as “a real lovable type of person.”

Spunar described Williams as “a good fellow young man” who was “built like a pro football player.” In fact, he said, television personality and retired NFL great Michael Strahan reminds him of Williams, because Williams had a gap between his teeth as Strahan does.

Spunar said he and Soto have been reminiscing about their service and would like to see Williams.

Anyone with information about Williams is welcome to call Soto at 916-682-1206 or 916-296-9635.