First Full-Time African American Chaplain in the National Guard US and First African American Chaplain in the Arkansas National Guard

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) J. Dawson Williams:

LTC Williams was born in Sparkman, Arkansas, and graduated from Sparkman High School in 1975. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Ouachita Baptist University in 1984 and a Master of Divinity from the School of Theology, Virginia Union University in 1987. LTC Williams earned a Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1996. In 1998, LTC Williams was recognized as Williams Baptist College’s Outstanding Alumni, and he earned a Master of Clinical Counseling from Henderson State University in 2014.

LTC Williams served in the Arkansas Army National Guard and the U.S. Navy for more than 23 years in various capacities. In June 1996, he was hired into the Active Guard/Reserves (AGR) Program as The Adjutant General’s Staff Chaplain for the Arkansas Army National Guard. This assignment was a first-of-its-kind military assignment, in which LTC Williams was asked to assist in establishing the first-ever full-time support Army National Guard Chaplain program in any state, district, or territory under the National Guard Bureau. Each year, long-range strategies were established to ensure those goals and objectives were met by clients. In those duties, he developed Government and Civilian community partners, provided specialized training, and advised commanders at all levels regarding personal and organizational development, supervised Military and Civilian employees as well as volunteer staff at the installation chapel level, and managed chapel funds in accordance with the appropriate regulations. He also delivered spiritual fitness activities with specialized training on topics such as stress and anger management, marriage enrichment, conflict resolution, and diversity appreciation, and he provided critical incident stress management and debriefing in numerous settings.

LTC Williams served in the U.S. Navy for five years as a Petty Officer Second Class. In 1990, he received his commission as an Officer in the 56A Branch, Army Chaplain with the Arkansas Army National Guard. His first assignment was in the 212th Signal Battalion where he served as the Battalion Chaplain. LTC Williams was the first African American Chaplain in the 212th Signal Battalion. His other military experience includes Battalion Staff Chaplain, 455th Transportation Battalion, Battalion Staff Chaplain, 39th Support Battalion, 39th Infantry Brigade, Joint Forces Headquarters Deputy Staff Chaplain, Arkansas Army National Guard, 1/206th Field Artillery Battalion Staff Chaplain, 39th Infantry Brigade (Operation Iraqi Freedom), 39th Infantry Brigade Staff Chaplain. LTC Williams retired in 2007.

LTC Williams’s awards and badges include the Legion of Merit, Global War on Terrorism, the Combat Action Badge, and the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal.

In December 2016, LTC Williams was hired by the Arkansas Army National Guard as a Department of the Army Civilian, GS-11, as the Arkansas Army National Guard’s Resiliency, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention Program Manager. In this position, he served as a Major Command Community Health Promotion Council Coordinator with oversight of Civilian Contractors and Military personnel who worked as program specialists in each of the three cited specialty areas. He provided vision based on Headquarters guidance, Project Management and Supervision.