Jennifer Williams is well known for her tireless actions as Anza Electric Cooperative’s government relations liaison during the Cranston Fire in 2018 and more recently, her devotion to the AEC/Food In Need of Distribution mobile food pantry program. Less well known, Williams is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“My best friend and I had a lot of friends who were enlisted,” she said. “I enjoyed the camaraderie and felt a strong sense of duty. The Marines was the only branch that I would consider. I am the only Marine in the family. My dad served in the Air Force during Vietnam, and my family was very supportive of me joining. I left for boot camp Sept. 8, 1998, and my EAS – end of active service contract – was Sept. 7, 2002.”
While in the service, Williams trained to become a logistics and embarkation specialist.
According to the U.S. Marine Corps, a logistics and embarkation specialist prepares supplies and equipment for embarkation and performs various force deployment planning and execution functions to support the movement of personnel, supplies, and equipment via all modes of transportation using commercial and military assets. This specialist is trained to prepare aircraft and ship load plans that meet organizational requirements. They assist with the preparation, planning and execution of strategic mobility plans used to deploy and sustain forward deployed forces. They compile and maintain logistics support data, compute combat logistics support requirements and coordinate combat logistics functions in support of MAGTF operations and deployments.
The attacks Sept. 11, 2001, deeply affected Williams, she said.
“The 9/11 attacks happened while I was on active duty,” she said. “I was pregnant with my daughter and my son was one and a half years old. I knew that it was just a matter of time before we were going to war. I was surprised that I wasn’t recalled back to active duty or affected by stop-loss. But I wasn’t and was able to leave the Marine Corps on time. Everyone that I worked with deployed, though. I had a tremendous amount of guilt for a long time because I was out of the Marine Corps and at home with my family. My dear friend was on the last plane out to deploy. She had been staying with me while she was getting the rest of the 1st Marine Division out. It was really difficult to see everyone leave. I felt like I had let my fellow Marines down. But I had to come to terms with it and take care of my family.”
After leaving the Marines, Williams was a stay at home mother for a few years and worked at Pechanga Resort for a short time. She used her GI Bill and other Veterans Affairs benefits to go back to school.
“I started out at Mt. San Jacinto College and wanted to get into environmental science, but decided that chemistry was not my friend,” she said. “So I changed majors and schools and went to University of Phoenix where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.”
After moving to Anza in 2008, Williams landed a job at the Anza Electric Cooperative Inc., as an administrative assistant in 2014.
She now performs the role of government relations liaison for the small, rural utility.
Recently married to Chris Williams, their combined family is a constant source of comfort.
“Chris and I met after going through some really difficult relationships. We got married on Halloween 2019 in Las Vegas by Little Elvis. It was perfect. Between us we have five children, ages 13,16,17,17 and 20, and luckily, they all get along really well,” she said.
Diane Sieker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.