Lt. Col William G. Hall –March 2011 Shipment Honoree
William G. Hall, 38, gave wise counsel to allBy Sara Jean Green, Seattle Times staff reporter
Maj. William G. Hall had a wisdom, a maturity beyond his years that enabled him to provide sound counsel to his elders and, at the same time, guide those far younger than himself.
“He could be having a conversation with me and then my 10-year-old niece could walk in the room and he’d capture her like he’d just captured me,” said Maj. Hall’s eldest sister, Dolores Perry, 56, of Seattle. “He could talk to anyone — from the minister to a drug addict. He was just that kind of person.”
Maj. Hall, a 1987 graduate of Seattle’s Garfield High School, embodied a quiet strength and respect for tradition — both the traditions of the Marine Corps, where he moved up the ranks over the course of his 15-year career, and his family’s traditions. Like coming home at Christmas and calling his mother at Easter, which he did this past Easter Sunday.
It was 1 a.m. in Iraq, and his voice sounded tired, Perry said. “He didn’t say a lot. He just gave us the reassurance he was OK,” she said. It was their last conversation.
Maj. Hall — who was called “Billy” by those closest to him — was injured in Iraq’s Anbar province by an improvised explosive device on Saturday (March 29) and died the following day. He was 38.
Before his unit deployed to Iraq in mid-February, Maj. Hall was selected for promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel, said Maj. Jason Johnston, who is based at Marine Corps Airstation Miramar in San Diego. Though Maj. Hall’s unit — the 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force — was based at Camp Pendleton, it was attached to the Miramar air station, Johnston said.
“We went through basics school together, and we were off and on in touch throughout our careers,” Johnston said. “I talked to him just before he left.”
Maj. Hall would have been promoted to his new rank sometime this year, Johnston said.
After graduating from high school, Maj. Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Washington State University in 1992. While at WSU, he enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, later joining the Marines. He met his future wife while assigned to a base in Florida, and he later served in Georgia, California and Japan.
According to his family, this was Maj. Hall’s second deployment to Iraq, where he was training Iraqi troops to take over the duties of American soldiers. And while he didn’t try to downplay the danger he faced, Maj. Hall also spoke of the good things happening in the war-torn country.
“I know most of what you hear on the news about Iraq is not usually good news and that so many are dying over here,” Maj. Hall wrote in a March 27 e-mail to his family, two days before he was fatally wounded. “That is true to an extent but it does not paint the total picture, and violence is not everywhere throughout the country. So please don’t associate what you see on the news with all of Iraq.”
He ended his e-mail with: “Love you and miss you. I’ll write again soon.”
In addition to his sister, Maj. Hall is survived by his wife, Xiomara Hall; daughters Tatianna, 6, and Gladys, 3; stepsons Xavier, 13, and Xander, 9, all of Temecula, Calif.; his mother, Mildred Hall, of Seattle; his sister Margie Bell, of Renton; his aunt, Alberta Hall, of Seattle; his uncle, Howard Berry of Kent; and several nieces and nephews.
The public is welcome to attend a memorial service for Maj. Hall that will include military honors at 11 a.m. Saturday at Seattle’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2801 S. Jackson St. A memorial service is also to be held Monday at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Maj. Hall will be buried sometime next week at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Seattle-area Marine officer killed in IraqBy MIKE BARBER, P-I REPORTER
Marine Lt. Col. William G. Hall, a Garfield High School and Washington State University graduate, was killed Saturday in Iraq, according to his family.
Hall, 38, who grew up in Skyway south of Seattle, is one of the highest-ranking U.S. military officers killed in the war. Information about the circumstances of his death was not immediately available from the Defense Department, which had not released an official notice of his loss.
He was the second member of the armed forces with local ties to die in Iraq on Saturday. The Defense Department announced Tuesday that Army Spc. Durrell L. Bennett, 22, of Spanaway was one of two soldiers serving with the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., who were killed by a roadside bomb and small-arms fire in Baghdad.
Hall’s family said the husband and father of four died while riding in Fallujah in a vehicle that struck a roadside bomb. He was on his third deployment there, having arrived in February, and had been promoted to his new rank a month ago.
Hall had told his family not to worry about this deployment because there was more to teach than to fight.
Yet his life was ended by a bomb hidden in the roadway as he was being driven from his quarters to the school, said Pat Ward, the Mukilteo police and fire chaplain and a longtime family friend.
“I can’t tell you how fine this young man was — the finest husband, father, son, Marine, individual — warm, gracious, just our very best,” Ward said. “My heart breaks.”
Hall’s mother, Millie, of Skyway, declined comment Tuesday, deferring to other family members. Hall “believed strongly in growing, living and learning, and he did all of those things with great courage and integrity,” his family said Tuesday in a statement.
Hall’s wife and mother first learned in a phone call from the Marine Corps that he was in surgery after being injured. Later, two supportive Marine casualty-notification officers arrived at their door and they knew.
The Marines have been at their side since, family members said.
“He had just been transferred to California and his wife and children were just here in Seattle for Christmas. He wanted to return here someday,” said a cousin, Ingrid Goodwin of Seattle.
Hall graduated in 1987 from Garfield, where he had been a member of the school’s marching band. He earned a degree in physical education from WSU, where he enrolled in ROTC, which led to his commission in the Marine Corps. In 2006, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.
Hall’s family and friends last heard from him by e-mail from Iraq on Thursday.
“I am sure the first question in each of your minds is my safety, and I am happy to tell you that I’m safe and doing well,” he wrote. He signed it “Billy” — the name those closest to him knew him by.
While his 15-year military career took him many places, Hall’s heart remained here, where he grew up nurtured by his adoptive parents, Mildred and the late William Hall.
Hall now will make one final trip home. His body is expected to return to Seattle on Thursday. A memorial service with military honors, at which the public is welcome, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2801 S. Jackson St., Goodwin said.