Son of a Soldier is a gripping new book written by author Eddie Williams, a West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and Green Beret. This book is about his amazing life and family secrets, describing his struggle to overcome adversity and achieve lofty goals against the odds. If you’ve ever thought you couldn’t accomplish something or wouldn’t amount to anything, you’ll think again after reading his story.
Eddie graciously agreed to let us interview him, and he told us more about his life and the book he’s written. He also offers advice for our readers who are transitioning from the military…
1. Why did you write this book about your life?
My parents demonstrated for me how they crossed physical boundaries to get married and shattered societal boundaries throughout their lives together. Through my book (essentially my story) I want to share with readers who feel helpless, hopeless, in an uncomfortable situation, or in over your head, to remember those who’ve faced difficult challenges, overcame them, and thrived. Discover how they did it and use that knowledge to chart your own course.
Lose sight of the shore as you advance toward your own destination. You can’t do the same things you’ve always done in the same ways you’ve always done them and expect different results. Be willing to learn along the way. Share what you’ve learned and experienced—even if it uncovers family secrets. While I was growing up, I didn’t fully understand the significance of all that my parents (as well as others I encountered) tried to impress on me. Yet after I became an adult, many of my own interactions, even personal achievements, were firmly rooted in what they had instilled in me and modeled for me.
2. Who was the most influential person in your life, and why?
We’ve all been positively and negatively influenced by people throughout our lives. Some helped us overcome obstacles, recover from stumbles, and encouraged us toward achieving our destiny. They were family, friends, co-workers or colleagues—individuals who mentored, prodded, and even pushed us toward our goals. They set a foundation upon which we then applied our respective strengths, talents, gifts, and abilities.
Yet, on our road to maturity, we’ve also gotten misdirected, drifted off course, or found ourselves outside our comfort zone. How we overcame those obstacles and uncomfortable situations along the way depended so much on what we’d learned from those in our lives who helped us stay focused. Because they gave us a hand up when we were knocked down, it is critically important that we acknowledge those who positively influenced us to overcome uncomfortable moments and awkward events.
For me, two of those influential people were my parents. They were the source of my motivation and the inspiration for my future adventures, even though I didn’t realize their full impact on my life until after they were gone.
3. What would you say is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life so far?
When I was walking between classes one day in high school, an African-American girl stopped me in the hallway. She looked at me and bluntly asked, “What are you?” Surprised by her question, I could only assume she was asking me about my ethnicity or race. I confidently replied, “I’m black!” Without hesitation and with a voice so loud I’m sure all the other students around us could hear, she responded, “YOU ARE A LIE!”
Shocked by her words and bluntness, I felt humiliated and tried my best to regain my composure and quickly walked away. Embarrassed, I escaped by melting back into the flow of students and got to my next class before the bell rang.
That incident, so many years ago, was an eye-opening, light bulb moment that motivated me to overcome the limitations and rudeness of others. It got me to focus on taking charge of my future.
4. You’ve held many leadership positions. What is your philosophy on leadership and life?
Nobody ever succeeded without slipping up along the way or without mentors to help them learn and grow. When someone stumbles, I don’t believe in stomping on him. I believe in the time proven leadership tenant: “Pick ’em up, dust ’em off and get ’em moving again.”
5. What advice do you have for military members who are transitioning to the civilian world?
A transitioning veteran’s job is … to find a job! My advice for service members leaving any branch of the military would be:
1) Before leaving the military, research information about companies looking to hire military veterans.
2) Translate your military skills and experience into a civilian-friendly resume, so hiring managers can understand your skills and experience, and can easily see your value to their organizations.
3) Before leaving the military or during terminal leave, coordinate informational meetings with organizations that help place transitioning veterans, and scheduled interviews near your duty station (and be willing to travel a reasonable distance if necessary), or before you get back to the states (if overseas).
Realize that there is an extensive market for veterans in civilian positions such as: plant managers, management trainees, and entry-level sales reps. Several corporations recognize that veterans have important skill sets. They are experienced supervisors, mission oriented, calm under pressure and stress, independent thinkers, self-motivated, small unit leaders, and have the critical aspects of attention-to-detail, planning, and a strong work ethic.
Corporations look to hire veterans because they bring a foundational level of skills and the proven ability to quickly learn new skills and concepts. Veterans enter the civilian workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, often proven through real world situations, which can directly enhance an organization’s productivity. Veterans can adapt to new training and policies of their new civilian employers.
6. Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Life provides us with a broad playing field to experience challenges, learn things, achieve victories, and overcome adversities. There are also those times when we are reluctant to get in over-our-heads. Those circumstances and unexpected events in our lives when we’re uncomfortable, even threatened. When we fear the unknown and have no control.
However, it’s exactly then when we should demonstrate our own personal grit and judgment. Our reaction is what allows us to continuously learn and grow toward achieving our personal, individual or professional successes. What’s crucial is how we apply the knowledge gained from those critical times, life lessons, or teachable moments.
It’s how we handle those circumstances in our lives—whether unusual crises or everyday difficulties—that improve our self-awareness. When we’re knocked, down do we get back up, dust ourselves off and move on? When we’re publically embarrassed, do we stay and argue or move along to minimize the damage?
Often, we must do what is extremely difficult for us human beings to do—ignore them. We should minimize those negative people—the naysayers, skeptics, and critics, who always seem to be in our lives. We need to acknowledge those awkward moments, yet learn from them.
We should also learn to celebrate the thrill of our victories along the way. Only then can we appreciate the journey and the impact of our mentors.
About the Author
Eddie is a West Point graduate and former Airborne Ranger and Green Beret. Eddie holds an MBA from Kennesaw State University, and since leaving the military, has worked in Sales, Marketing, and Management.
Eddie also serves in the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF), a voluntary military organization that assists the Georgia Army and Air National Guard during state emergency situations, such as; search & rescue, hurricane evacuation, joint operations, and medical emergencies. He has held multiple positions at GSDF, and currently serves as the Commander of the 76th Support Brigade at the Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, GA, and holds the rank of Colonel.