By Marine Pfc. Jacob Tyler Colvin
Defense Information School
Sidney A. Williams Jr., the support services supervisor for the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, stands in his office at the school. Williams, who grew up in North Carolina, has filled the office with Carolina Panthers memorabilia, including a picture of a Panthers player that his son, Michael D. Williams, now 19, drew for him when he was 10, and a framed jersey autographed by Cam Newton, the star quarterback for the team.
Sidney A. Williams Jr., the support services supervisor for the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, argues Jan. 28 with Russell Rush, who also works for the directorate of logistics at DINFOS, and Staff Sgt. Michael Sparks, an instructor at the school, about who will win the Super Bowl. Williams is a fan of the Carolina Panthers, who defeated the Seattle Seahawks – the team Sparks supports – in January in a divisional playoff game. The Panthers are scheduled to play the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7 in the Super Bowl.
Mike Griffith, the director of logistics for the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, is not only the boss but also a close friend of Sidney A. Williams Jr., the support services supervisor for school.
The two met 11 years ago while Williams was in the Army. Griffith noticed Williams’ kindness instantly.
“He has the best heart you’ll ever see,” Griffith said.
But Williams is not only kind, he’s competitive.
A few years ago, Griffith was going to go play golf. When Williams found out, he wanted to tag along. Williams had never played before, but he stepped up to the ball and drove it 300 yards – with a smile on his face.
Williams, a tall, athletic man, has a lot more to smile about lately. He is a fan of the Carolina Panthers, who are scheduled to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Where his Panthers are concerned, Williams is the happiest and most competitive sports fan on the planet.
As he walks the hallways of DINFOS, where just about everyone knows he is a Panthers fan, Williams typically can be seen wearing a bright blue shirt to support his favorite team. He is sure to let everyone know if the Panthers won a recent game.
“I’m 100 percent Carolina all the time,” he said. “If you cut me, I’ll bleed blue instead of red.”
Last month, after the Panthers had beaten the Seattle Seahawks in their conference championship game, Williams was greeted with congratulations from his co-workers and friends. Then, he ran into Army Staff Sgt. Michael Sparks, a Seahawks fan and an instructor at the school. For Sparks, the wound was still healing.
This was a perfect time for Williams to talk some trash. When Sparks approached, he did not seem jealous or defeated, however. Sparks predicted with a smirk that the Panthers were going to lose the Super Bowl.
Williams threw his arms up, tilted his head back, rolled his eyes and explained why his team is the best.
“We won our division three years in a row!” he said.
After Sparks and Williams argued for a good 30 minutes, they shook hands like true football fans who appreciate the game.
Williams grew up in a small town in North Carolina. He was a student at Louisburg High School.
His school didn’t have much of a football team, he said. So, he played baseball for junior varsity and the varsity teams, pitching all four years.
Any sport Williams played, he gave 100 percent.
“I’m competitive even in badminton,” Williams said. “When I play badminton, I play badminton with a vengeance.”
In 1990, he joined the Army right out of high school and was shocked to see how different it was from normal life, Williams said.
In Operation Desert Storm, he supplied service members with water, food and much-needed laughs. One day, while resupplying the members of a tank crew, he saw them come out of the tank covered in dust and sweat, and he saw the looks on their battle-worn faces.
“You see people’s true emotions and fears come out,” Williams said.
After he saw all of these things, he realized life needs happiness.
While continuing his time in the Army, Williams bounced all over the world until he ended up at Fort Meade.
While he was stationed on Fort Meade as a sergeant first class, he did some of the things he does today at DINFOS.
After being promoted to master sergeant, Williams was about to move on from Fort Meade.
Griffith forwarded a letter from Williams to his branch manager, requesting to extend his time here. The branch manager denied the request because he needed Williams on another post.
Then, Griffith forwarded a stronger letter, urging the branch manager to reconsider. He denied that request as well.
Yet another letter arrived. The third letter wasn’t from Williams and Griffith. It was from a medical officer who said Williams had broken his neck playing in a flag football game and could not leave post until he had healed.
The branch manager had no choice but to approve the extension for Williams.
“He broke his neck to stay here!” Griffith said.
Since then, Williams recovered from his injury, retired from the Army and remained at DINFOS as a Department of Defense civilian with his own office.
The office is now mostly blue. He covered the walls with Panthers posters and memorabilia. He littered his desk with Panthers office supplies. He hung a picture of a Panthers player that his son, Michael D. Williams, now 19, drew for him when he was 10. Then he topped the scene off with a framed jersey autographed by Cam Newton, the star quarterback for the Panthers.
“What better way to show my pride of my team than doing it at work?” Williams asked. “Everybody is not going to come to my house and watch a game with me in my basement, but everybody is going to come to my office.”
Williams is a competitive person, but when he is not talking about football, he doesn’t seem that way. He smiles, nods and makes sure he helps people however he can.
Williams runs orientation for new employees at DINFOS. After they walk into his office and are visually smacked in the face with Carolina sports memorabilia, the employees meet a happy Panthers fan. He takes their pictures. Then he makes each one a laminated security badge and conducts tours around the building. He does all of this while trying to convince people to become Panthers fans just in time to jump on the bandwagon.
When it comes time for the big game, Williams will be watching the Super Bowl in his basement with his son.
“It gets no better than being where I am at – being who I am,” he said. “Life is too easy to stress.”