Bernard I. Williams, who fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II and later worked for the Kennecott Refining Corp., died Monday at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. A resident of Pasadena, he was 88 and had suffered from diabetes and heart problems.
Mr. Williams, who served as a noncommissioned officer in the Coast Guard during the war, was stationed on a ship that, under fierce fire, brought troops to Iwo Jima, the island where the famous photograph of troops raising the American flag was taken. His unit received a presidential citation for its actions during the battle, said his son Alexander Williams of Pasadena.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Williams left home at 15 to help support his family. He built highways in West Virginia and then joined the Coast Guard when he was 17.
In the Coast Guard in the 1950s, he worked on a radio ship in the Mediterranean. He oversaw the crew handling the helium balloon that carried an antenna. The ship transmitted Voice of America broadcasts to Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
During this time, he met Mary Nimora Kiotakis on the Greek island of Rhodes. They married in 1957 and moved to Pasadena, where Mr. Williams worked in security and as a locksmith for the Kennecott Refining Corp. for 21 years. His wife died in 1990.
Mr. Williams was a longtime member of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park and of the Fleet Reserve Club.
A few weeks ago, a student working on a school project had written to Mr. Williams, asking about Iwo Jima. Mr. Williams, who liked to help young people, sent the student photos and wrote him a letter about serving his country.
A funeral was held Friday.
In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, John Williams of Pasadena; a sister, Margaret Cohen of Baltimore; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.