Famous Marines - Montel Williams
Montel Williams – You might know him as an Emmy Award-winning TV show host of The Montel Williams Show (which aired nationally for seventeen years), public speaker, a New York Times bestselling author, actor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and currently the host of the Military Makeover: Operation Career, but Montel Williams built the foundation for his life by serving in the military serving both in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. Montel is also a passionate advocate for veterans, education, and health.
Montel joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school in 1974. He completed Boot Camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where he was promoted to platoon guide. After boot camp, he was sent to the Desert Warfare Training Center at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, near Palm Springs, California, where he was placed in the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. He completed the one-year NAPS course and was accepted to the four-year officer training program at the U.S. Naval Academy as part of the Class of 1980.
Just three days after his birthday in 1976, Montel arrived at Annapolis and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a Cpl, and enlisted into the U.S. Navy as a midshipman. He graduated in 1980 with a degree in general engineering and a minor in international security affairs. Upon his graduation, he became the first black enlisted Marine to complete and graduate from both the Naval Academy Prep School and Annapolis.
Commissioned as an ensign in the Restricted Line, he completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training (I was a Cryptologic Analyst). Williams spent the following 18 months at Naval Security Group Detachment (NSGD) Guam. In 1982, he was transferred to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he studied the Russian language for one year. He met his first wife Rochelle See and they have two daughters together, divorcing in 1989.
He was assigned to the Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Maryland at Fort Meade, Maryland. While counseling crew members, he discovered a gift for public speaking. What Montel did at Fort Meade is mostly vague due to the security and classification of the missions at Fort Meade. He was actively involved in Operation Urgent Fury (U.S. Invasion of Grenada in 1983) and actually worked to secure the release of U.S. citizens. (Being in the same MOS or military job, as Montel, I have some good ideas as to what he did).
He then rode submarines for three years as a Lieutenant deploying as a Direct Support Officer at Ft. Meade. In 1988, he began conducting informal counseling for the wives and families of the servicemen in his command. He was later asked to speak to a local group of kids in Kansas City, Missouri, about the importance of leadership and how to overcome obstacles on the road to success—thus beginning a three-year career in motivational speaking.
He moved to the Naval Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander and served in the reserves for five years. His personal decorations include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Navy Achievement Medal, two Navy Expeditionary Medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals, and two Humanitarian Service Medals. Retiring in 1996 from the Naval Reserve at the rank of lieutenant commander after 22 years of service.
It was his public speaking and community outreach that led to the “The Montel Williams Show”. Williams traveled the country talking to more than three million teenagers nationwide and gave up his naval commission to pursue speaking full-time.
“In the nearly three decades since I retired from the Navy, I’ve never really taken the uniform off Montel-home makeover because standing up for those who are serving now and those who have served has been the greatest honor of my professional career.” – Montel Williams
In 1991, while in the Naval Reserves, Montel started The Montel Williams Show, earning a Daytime Emmy in 1996 for Outstanding Talk Show Host.
In 1992, Montel married Grace Morley, and they had a son and daughter together, divorcing in 2000.
In 1999, Montel was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he started having extreme burning pain in his legs. He had an MRI, which finally led doctors to relapsing-remitting MS.
“I had intermittent symptoms over the years – I would lose the vision in my left eye, but then it would return after several days,” Williams says. “I also had days where I would feel pain or numbness, but I would chalk it up to a strenuous workout.”
He briefly dated Vice President Kamala Harris in 2001.
Williams also markets his own brand of Cannabidiol (CBD oil) products. Montel stated to Forbes “that he spent years working to develop medicinal-quality CBD to treat his own multiple sclerosis”
I salute you my brother, Montel, Semper Fidelis