Vernon L. Williams has produced eighteen documentary films on military and American history subjects. He founded Old Segundo Productions in the year 2000.
Growing Up Air Force
Dr. Williams grew up in an Air Force family during the 1940’s and 1950’s. His father, M/SGT Andrew L. Williams, served first in the Army Air Force in 1942 and later retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1964. During World War II, Sgt. Williams served in the Pacific war with the 509th Composite Group, the unit that flew the two atomic bomb missions from Tinian Island in 1945. Sgt. Williams, as an engineering specialist, worked on various modification and repairs to the B-29 aircraft assigned to the group. After the two atomic missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war ended, and he began a long career in the Air Force. Later he named his only daughter after the famed aircraft, Enola Gay Williams Boyd. Interestingly, in recent years Enola Gay worked for Boeing Aircraft, the very firm that manufactured the B-29 bearing her name.
During the years growing up, Dr. Williams traveled with his family while his father served in assignments in England, Bermuda, Okinawa, Amarillo AFB, and Westover AFB before returning to Amarillo AFB where his father retired in 1964. These early years nurtured a growing respect for the men and women who served in the military as the future historian grew up on air bases scattered across the globe.
In Pursuit of Military History
Later he would write of these World War II veterans whom he had encountered growing up and eventually would dedicate much of his career to the preservation of the history of WWII America. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army in the 1960’s, Williams returned to civilian life to attend the university, the first person in his family to do so. In 1985, Williams received a doctorate in American military history from Texas A&M University. After graduation, Williams began a long career of teaching, writing military history, and documentary film work that continues to this day.
Williams has traveled across the United States and throughout England, interviewing the WWII generation. In the United States, he has interviewed hundreds of air and ground crews who served in wartime England. In rural East Anglia, Williams sought out British family members who lived in the small rural villages that surrounded the American bases during the war. Young boys and girls, together with older brothers and sisters, have detailed their experiences living among the “Yanks” during the war.
Using the growing archives and these extraordinary digital video interviews of both the Americans and their British neighbors, Dr. Williams has produced and directed eleven documentary films about life in the East Anglia farm lands and the air front that extended from runways across England’s heartland, deep into the darkness that was Hitler’s empire in Europe.
“These films represent important new additions to our knowledge of World War II because the voices that speak are the voices of those who lived the history of that time,” explained Williams. “With the technology available to us in this new digital age, the World War II generation can continue to teach generations of Americans who will be born long after World War II has faded into the distant past. So in a sense these men and women of the Greatest Generation will live forever as their stores will survive long after they are gone from the earth.”
Williams recently retired from the University to focus on writing a series of new military non-fiction books and the production of a number of new documentary films scheduled for release over the next three years. These new book titles will add new knowledge to American military history and the new films will add to the Air War Series, Military History Series, and the History of the American West Series. The plan is working. Here are the book and film projects that have been released since 2018:
- A Journey Home: The 5th Army Band and the Final Farewell to President Dwight Eisenhower, April 2, 1969 (Military History Series, released on July 21, 2023)
- Rendezvous Over Berlin: A Texas Cowboy Finds His Destiny Over the Skies of Nazi Germany, 1942-1943 (Air War Series, released in 2019)
- Willard, Colorado: The Burlington Railroad, Community and Life on the Twentieth Century’s Colorado High Plains (History of the American West Series, released in 2020)
- Flight Surgeon: A War Diary, 1941-1945 (A book edited by Vernon L. Williams, published in July 2021 by TCU Press)
- From Ozark to Fortress Europe: Flight Surgeon Thurman Shuller, War, Medicine, and a Life of Service, a companion film for the book Flight Surgeon (Military History Series, released in 2021)
Crucible of War: The Anglo/American Cultural Exchange in World War II England, 1942-1945 (Based on twenty years of research and oral history interviews in England and the United States, this book will explore the World War II experiences of American ground and air crews in wartime England and the British rural families who lived in the villages and towns in and around the American airfields.)
An American Journey: Andrew and Mary Ruth Williams’ Passage Across the Twentieth Century (A book by Vernon L. Williams, this is the story of an Air Force family that begins in the 1920s and travels across the Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War. )
Cokedale, Colorado, 1897-1947: A Model Company Town and the Promise of Hope and Community (Premiere and release set for fall 2023 or spring 2024 in Trinidad, Colorado, date and location to be announced.)
Target Japan: The 509th Composite Group and the Beginning of the Atomic Age (Premiere and release set for 2024, date and location to be announced.)
- Speed is the Password: The 12th Armored Division and the Spearhead to the Rhine, 1942-1945 (Premiere and release set for 2024, date and location to be announced.)
(Updated July 30, 2023)