GREEN BERET VETERAN KILLED IN VIET NAM
A decorated member of the famed "green beret" Special Forces who recently survived capture by the Viet Cong has become the district's 10th Viet Nam casualty.
Young father of four becomes district's tenth casualty of war during third Far East tour
The family of SSgt William A. Will, 24, was notified that he was on a combat mission against enemy forces when he was killed by small arms fire.
He is survived by his wife, the former Judy Lesko, four sons, all under the age of five, and his mother Bertha Will, Westwood Apartments, San Juan Drive, Port Vue.
He earlier had served tours of duty in Laos and south Viet Nam and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service during the period he was captured and later escaped Viet Cong forces.
Members of his family said that he was urged to seek stateside duty after his safe return from his first Viet Nam tour but returned to action "because he believed in what America was trying to accomplish in Viet Nam."
His first mission to Southeast Asia was in Laos. According to his mother, he was convinced that the settlement finally reached there "would clear up things in that part of the world and he was proud of the part he played in the resolution."
When America involvement in South Viet Nam grew, Sgt. Will was assigned there with a demolition squad.
In 1964, he and two other American soldiers were captured by the Viet Cong with about 35 South Vietnamese soldiers.
The Vietnamese prisoners were slaughtered by the Communist who held the Americans for several days before stripping them naked and turning them loose in the jungle.
The three managed to return safely to their own troops and as a result, Sgt. Will was awarded the Army Commendation Medal on January 8, 1965 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home base of the Special Forces.
The citation accompanying the medal noted that it was given "for the performance of exceptionally meritorious service during the period from September 19, 1964 to September 30, 1964."
Mrs. Will, who is employed in a McKeesport store, got a call while working on Wednesday night that an Army major was looking for her daughter in law, who had left for Fort Bragg Tuesday night. She called the Red Cross, which referred her to Army Headquarters in Washington, D.C. That call brought her the news of her son's death. She returned home to find a letter in her mailbox from her son who said:
"I'm still alive and doing okay myself - as well as to be expected at the present."
In the letter dated July 1, he indicated his confidence in getting back alive this third time and said all he wanted was a cold drink of water. Later that night, she got official notice by telegram of her son's fate.
Friends of the family said Sgt. Will had learned fluent Laotian and various Vietnamese dialects while in Southeast Asia, and that he attended various Army classes in languages. He also was a member of "The President's 100" - a marksmanship group.
Sgt. Will would have been 25 on August 4. He was born in Dravosburg and his family moved to 1009 Vermont Avenue in Glassport, where they lived for about 15 years. Sgt. Will played football at Glassport High School and was a member of St. Cecilia's Church there.
His father was the late Russell Will, who worked at Firth Sterling. After his death several years ago, Mrs. Will moved to the Westwood Apartments in Port Vue. Another son, Fred 25, lives with her and a daughter Joyce, 26, is married to James Hutchinson and is living in Washington D.C.
Mrs. Will's only grandchildren are Sgt. Will's boys - William, 5; Ty; 4; Cole 3; and Gray, 6 months.
Fred Will, now working at the Irvin Works, was in the service from 1960 to 1963. He served in Korea, while his brother was in Laos. Sgt. Will's wife, Judy, has a brother, Dennis Lesko, now serving in Viet Nam as a helicopter gunner.
From the McKeesport, Pennsylvania, DAILY NEWS, July 1966