By Maggie White
Aside from being a proud dad to his daughters, Desiree and Navaeh, Willie Mays is a Hometown Hero in many ways. After graduating from Strom Thurmond High School, Willie joined the Army in August 1981. He was trained as a mortar infantryman, or 11 Charlie, at Fort Benning, Georgia. There he supported the regular infantry. If they ran into trouble, he and the other mortar infantrymen beside him would launch mortars to help break contact with the enemy or achieve their objective.
Willie’s first duty station was Fort Ord in California, which was a beautiful place, but much different from where he grew up. He also attended jungle training in Panama while stationed at Fort Ord. During his deployment to Korea, his mission was to guard the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. After spending a year in Korea, Willie returned to California and re-enlisted as a 13M Multiple Launch Rocket System Specialist in Field Artillery.
After being stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Willie left for Germany, where he went to Desert Storm. Once returning to Germany, he ended his enlistment. Willie decided to stay in Germany and become a translator for American service members and their families at the Nuremberg Airport.
Upon returning to South Carolina, Willie worked for Westview Behavioral Health Services, AutoZone, and ended his career at O’Reilly Auto Parts due to service-connected injuries. He now spends his days as an active member of the Mid-Carolina Lions Club and AV team at First Baptist Church. His daily routine includes making trips to small, local businesses to support them or simply chat. We want to thank Willie for his service in the Army and his support of small businesses. He has made an incredible impact on both our nation and our community.