Bill Jameson has lived a life of service. Recently he was named Louisiana Veteran of the Year. He is this month’s BayouIcon.
article by NILS BORQUIST
portraits by MARTIN G MEYERS
While wars and conflict are inevitable, even necessary some would claim, striving for a state of peace and togetherness should be the driving force for mankind. Peace, at its very core, arises from understanding, forgiveness, sacrifice and charity. Armed with such attributes, a truly valiant figure may be found serving his community and fellow veterans by giving of his time, energy and wisdom. Recently earning the honor of Louisiana Veteran of the Year from the Louisiana Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Association for his humanitarian efforts, Bill Jameson proves that an eternal hero is one who radiates love, caring and selflessness.
Bill Jameson commenced his life of service on September 15th, 1961, by enlisting in the United States Army in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Although born on Christmas Day in 1938 in Newton, Kansas, Bill’s family actually lived in Watonga, Oklahoma, where he spent the entirety of his young life until he graduated from Phillips University, located in Enid, Oklahoma, at the age of 22. At that point in his life, he felt the initial call to serve his country. After enlisting, Bill spent the next decade and a half traveling the world in the military. Beginning in Missouri for Basic Training, Bill spent time in several states, such as Massachusetts and New Jersey, as well as countries such as England, Turkey, Japan and Germany.
During his nearly 15 years in the Army, Bill rose from E-1 (Junior Enlisted) to Chief Warrant Officer Two (CW2), the rank at which he retired. Mr. Jameson spent time in various roles, from communications officer to training officer. He met each challenging position with focus, honor, and skill, eventually earning medals, including two Army Commendation Ribbons and four Army Good Conduct Ribbons, for his efforts. In fact, Bill was awarded 16 total medals for his military service. However, in 1976, tragic circumstances resulted in Bill retiring from the Army. Due to basal cell carcinoma, Mr. Jameson was medically discharged from active duty. Though at that time, Bill was apparently finished with his Armed Forces career, he did not foresee that he would positively impact the lives of numerous soldiers and veterans in the years to follow.
Over four decades after his retirement, Jameson invests nearly all of his waking hours trying to help veterans. As a member of the General Claire Chennault Flying Tigers Chapter of the Louisiana Disabled American Veterans Association, Jameson tirelessly works to assist veterans in any way possible. With the formation of the Monroe chapter in 2014, the first Louisiana chapter to be introduced in over 30 years and a marvelous project advocated by Chennault Aviation and Military Museum CEO Nell Chennault Calloway and engineered by another winner of the Louisiana Veteran of the Year (2015), Chapter Commander Michael R. Shaw, Bill’s involvement has been full throttle. As first a member of the group before being elected Sergeant-at-Arms in 2015 as well as the Chapter Adjutant and Treasurer, positions he currently retains, Bill participates wholly within the organization. Primarily a fund raiser for the group, many days and afternoons find Bill selling raffle tickets or accepting donations for the DAV, funds that go entirely towards projects for the improvement of veterans’ lives.
One such project with great results involved the purchasing of a van to be used to transport veterans needing medical care to the Jackson, Mississippi, VA hospital. While Jameson pointed out that a van was originally used to convey veterans who live within close proximity to the I-20 corridor from Monroe to Shreveport, no such vehicle was utilized for those who live from Monroe to Jackson, including those in Rayville, Delhi, and Tallulah. Seeking to remedy that problem, the Flying Tiger DAV Chapter put forth the effort to receive financial means for purchasing a van. On April 5, 2017, the group was able to provide a van to the Jackson VA Medical Center expressly to meet the needs of veterans without the means to travel to the facility. On that day, the Chennault Chapter held a Van Dedication Ceremony at the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum, a day that rightfully is a proud moment for Bill Jameson and the entire Chapter.
Not one to be content with past successes, Jameson continues to work towards helping every single veteran who needs assistance. That goal pushes Jameson to personally speak with all of those individuals who contact him in addition to assisting them to fill out necessary paperwork, acting as a liaison for the veterans and Veterans Affairs officials. He dutifully lives the DAV motto: “Fulfilling our promise to the men and women who serve.” Essentially, and modestly, he says his goal is simple—he is part of a group where veterans help veterans, and he is proud to do so. He stated that he enjoys his service to “the chapter, the department, the museum (Chennault), and the community.” Jameson is aware that there are individuals who are missed by the Veterans Affairs, even recounting a story wherein a man who fought and was wounded in World War II was not given a Purple Heart. He was not purposely denied nor neglected; he was simply and unfortunately overlooked. With the help of organizations like the DAV, the veteran received his medal over 50 years later. Jameson acknowledges that this is a tremendous story of perseverance and justice, but he also realizes that there are many more similar cases involving benefits that are missed. With that knowledge in mind, he continues to do everything he can to right the wrongs.
Due to Bill’s persistent efforts, work for which he claims the rewards are boundless and beyond the value of monetary gain, he received the Louisiana Veteran of the Year, an award that came to him as a complete surprise. On May 20th, 2017, while attending the 96th annual State Convention of the Disabled American Veterans in Alexandria, Bill’s name was called for the prestigious honor. Unaware that he was even nominated, Mr. Jameson was caught off-guard. After receiving the award, presented to him by Junior Past Department Commander Dave Sensat, Jameson realized the weight of such an accolade. With thousands of potential candidates to be nominated, to be recognized for his dedication and hard work amidst such other veterans who also spend their lives trying to help just showed how much his contributions are appreciated. In all, Mr. Jameson simply stated that it was a “humbling honor.”
Into his seventh decade of life, surprising when noting the bounce in his step and the glow in his eyes, Bill Jameson continues to exert himself for the benefit of others. His hands-on approach to solving veterans’ problems and concerns endears him to everyone he meets. Ready with a smile and a handshake, he is quick to give his phone number along with the message that he is available 24/7, 365 days a year to help those in need. With the glowing record of success the DAV has accumulated regarding helping veterans, the enthusiasm and commitment of Bill and veterans like him, as well as those who simply wish to help, continues to lead the way for helping those who have given a great deal of their own lives to make this country the wonderful place it is. The Herculean strength shown by the DAV, especially the chapter that resides within the city of Monroe, should serve as a beacon for citizens of the city and the surrounding towns that much can be accomplished with a willingness to serve, to give up time and energy in order to assist others.
Such a life is the existence that Bill Jameson has chosen. It would have been easy for a man with a family of his own, children and grandchildren, to simply stay home and enjoy the time retirement affords. Instead, with the feeling that he could help those who cannot help themselves, Billy Noel Jameson has stood up, spoken up, and fulfilled his personal expectations to give of himself.
Heroes are often familiar to us by name and by deed, but many of them lead silently and by action alone. A hero of that mold lives and acts quietly among the citizens of Monroe. We should all be proud of what that man, Bill Jameson, provides to society and especially those who were willing to sacrifice themselves for what the society can be.