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Date:
October 7, 2022
Time:
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Address:
Fort Pierce, FL 34950
thumbnail_Pondextuer Williams full screen
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In Honor and Remembrance of Fort Pierce Native Fallen Son: Army SP4 Pondextuer Euguene Williams

Friday, October 7, 2022

Fort Pierce, Florida September 26, 2022 - Lincoln Park Main Street, in partnership with the City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, American Legion Posts #40 and # 171, Vietnam Veterans of America Michael F. Bradley Chapter 566, Fort Pierce Yacht Club and Dignity Memorial are hosting a posthumous celebration for SP4 Pondextuer Eugene Williams. SP4 Williams, an American Army soldier, gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life, on August 8, 1970, while serving in the Vietnam War.

Fort Pierce, Florida September 26, 2022 - Lincoln Park Main Street, in partnership with the City of Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, American Legion Posts #40 and # 171, Vietnam Veterans of America Michael F. Bradley Chapter 566, Fort Pierce Yacht Club and Dignity Memorial are hosting a posthumous celebration for SP4 Pondextuer Eugene Williams. SP4 Williams, an American Army soldier, gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life, on August 8, 1970, while serving in the Vietnam War. 

The memorial celebration will take place on Friday, October 7, 2022, beginning at 10:00 am with military honors at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens 6026 N. US Highway One, Fort Pierce; followed by an 11:15 am laying of the wreath at the Veterans' Memorial Wall, Riverwalk Center, 600 Indian Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida. SP4 Williams, a 1968 graduate of Dan McCarty High School, Ft. Pierce, Florida, "was killed in action when he exposed himself to intense hostile fire as he moved forward to the point of heaviest contact and began placing a heavy volume of fire upon the insurgent forces." 

SP4 Williams, a fallen soldier, honorably return home to Ft. Pierce, Florida. At which time, his mother, the late Mrs. Mary Campbell, took charge of funeral arrangements after reading an advertisement by Hillcrest Memorial Gardens in the Ft. Pierce News Tribune that read, 'as an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Armed Forces, you may be qualified for a free burial space in the Garden of Peace. However, you must register for this.' Mrs. Campbell registered for a plot, but the privately owned cemetery refused her request because SP4 Williams was black and cited contractual and legal issues with the 5000 property owners. 

Instead, Hillcrest offered to purchase a plot for him at Pine Grove, the local black cemetery. SP4 Williams was eulogized on August 23, 1970. Still, he was not buried until August 29, 1970, because Hillcrest insisted that he could not be buried there even after Mrs. Louise H Diehl offered Mrs. Campbell one of her family plots. Mrs. Campbell was unwilling to give up the fight and retained attorney Ralph L. Flowers to represent her in this legal battle. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People began a campaign to spread the news of Mrs. Campbell's troubles. 

The United States Southern District Court of Florida declared the racially restricted section of the cemeteries charter invalid. Hillcrest bylaw said, "burial would be strictly limited to members of the human race and the Caucasian race only." SP4 Williams was finally laid to rest in the Garden of Piece section of the cemetery under significant media coverage documenting the historical event from national television networks, filmmakers, and newspaper outlets from around the country. 

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