From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Jay Williamson '86

Date of birth: July 15, 1963

Date of death: March 21, 1991

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1986 Lucky Bag:

1986 Williamson LB.jpg

Jay Williamson

Moore, Oklahoma

This Okie came to us with high hopes of leading the rich, clean life From "Little Buddy" to "LB" to that heavy weight "Pound," Jay decided he didn't want to waste his keen mind and sharp wit on academics. So, he searched for a sport . . . 150's took him and handed him an N-star . . . his other sport handed him a "black" one. Living in the fast lane and sometimes no lane at all, "LB" and friends have done some incredible feats. Yet he never lost sight of that special someone in Oklahoma. We have no doubt that those golden Navy wings will carry J&S to great heights. "Watch'em Abe" JTD

1986 Williamson LB.jpg

Jay Williamson

Moore, Oklahoma

This Okie came to us with high hopes of leading the rich, clean life From "Little Buddy" to "LB" to that heavy weight "Pound," Jay decided he didn't want to waste his keen mind and sharp wit on academics. So, he searched for a sport . . . 150's took him and handed him an N-star . . . his other sport handed him a "black" one. Living in the fast lane and sometimes no lane at all, "LB" and friends have done some incredible feats. Yet he never lost sight of that special someone in Oklahoma. We have no doubt that those golden Navy wings will carry J&S to great heights. "Watch'em Abe" JTD


Jay was lost on March 21, 1991 when the P-3 Orion aircraft he was aboard collided with another over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles from San Diego. Twenty-six other men -- the full crews of both aircraft -- were also killed.

From the Associated Press via VPnavy.com on March 21, 1991:

SAN DIEGO - Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Southern California, authorities said.

The Navy listed the crews as missing, but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.

The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine Warfare exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.

"I think we have to be realistic here," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. "It is very cold out there. We're talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision...two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim."

Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.

Search and rescue teams saw some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.

There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make "extraordinary" attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the destroyer USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes, were assisting in the search.

A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the Merrill reported a ball of fire and loud explosion about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.

He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.

The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just completed its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.

Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.

The P-3s were in contact with land- and sea-based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.

Showers and strong winds were reported in the San Diego area overnight. The National Weather Service said pilots in the area reported severe turbulence about the time of the collision.

Howard said the Navy was uncertain what part, if any, weather played in the collision.

The P-3 Orion, driven by four propellers, is regularly used by weather forecasters to fly in hurricanes.

Other Information

From The Daily Oklahoman on March 22, 1991:

In Moore, OK, Bob Williamson said the Navy told his family that Jay Williamson, 28, died in the crash.

"The Navy contacted his wife in San Jose and she called my brother," Bob Williamson said. "I've been out to my brother's house all morning and they left for California this afternoon."

In a 1986 newspaper interview, Jay Williamson described entering naval aviation flight training school as "a dream come true."

The former Moore High School football player said he had never flown in a commercial airplane prior to graduating from high school.

In the interview, Williamson said he Jay Williamson hoped to join the space program someday.

Bob Williamson said his nephew has two children and also is survived by his parents. Art and Janice Williamson, a brother and two sisters.

"They haven't recovered all the bodies yet because of bad weather and high seas, but we're hoping that he will be recovered," Williamson said.

From The Daily Oklahoman on April 2, 1991:

Family, Friends Bid Farewell To Navy Flier

The wavering sound of "Taps" echoed through Regency Park Baptist Church Monday afternoon as family and friends bid farewell to Navy Lt. Jay Allen Williamson.

But that was the only somber note as the Rev. Ron Hymer and seven of Williamson's friends recalled the happy times they had spent with the Navy flier.

"We wanted to keep it on an upbeat note," Williamson's father, Art, said after the memorial service. "We didn't want it to be sad and solemn because we know he is with the Lord."

Williamson, 27, was one of 27 servicemen who died March 21 when two Navy planes collided 60 miles off Southern California. Two other Oklahomans also were killed, Lt. j.g. Martin "Brad" Cox, 27, of Oklahoma City and Petty Officer 2nd Class Francis A. Sposato, 30, of Tulsa.

"Jay was not just the kind of guy you know, he was a friend," the overflow audience of about 700 was told by Ernie Phillips, who had been Williamson's roommate at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

And, he said, "He had dreams as big as the sky. If he had an idea, he acted on it."

"Jay was not a quitter," added Steve Douglas, a lifelong friend. That is what Jay would want from all his friends, "that they not quit but that they strive to do better."

The church sanctuary was filled 10 minutes before the memorial service was to begin. Church officials said as many as 50 other people were in an overflow area.

In the sanctuary lobby, mementoes of Williamson's life, from his baby book to his Navy certificates, were displayed. Among the photograph albums and newspaper clippings were awards he won at summer camp.

"He was the best friend a man could have on this earth," summed up John Harrington, who grew up with Williamson.

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Jay graduated from Moore High School in 1981. He played football and was a member of the Junior Classical League (Latin.)

The Williamson Memorial Navy Relief Fund was established to help families of Navy servicemen in times of tragedy or emergencies.

Jay has one memory marker in Arlington National Cemetery and another in Oklahoma.



Jay was interviewed for an article titled "Academy Degrees Tough Work Land-Locked Oklahomans Seek Naval Education, Commissions" that appeared in the Daily Oklahoman on March 11, 1985:

"You bet we still pitch pennies at Tecumseh," grinned Midshipman Jay Williamson, of Moore. "He's still the god of two point zero, the passing grade on examinations."

Williamson, who hopes to be a Marine flier after graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy next year, is rounding out his third year as midshipman.

Tecumseh is the bronze recreation of the wooden figurehead of the old warship Delaware. The statue occupies a pedestal in front of the midshipman living quarters.

Generations of middies have offered pennies and left-handed salutes at the grim-faced effigy for luck, making the practice one of the naval academy's most enduring traditions.

Like many other midshipmen, Williamson spent a year at the naval academy preparatory school at Newport, R.I., brushing up his academic skills before starting his plebe year.

From The Daily Oklahoman on March 14, 1986:

Moore Grad on Cloud Nine with Marriage, Aviation Plans

When Jay Williamson left Oklahoma City after graduating from Moore High School in 1981, he had never flown in a commercial airplane.

Last week, Williamson returned home after three years at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md to make final plans for graduation, his upcoming marriage and Naval Aviation flight training in Jacksonville, Fla.

For Williamson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Art Williamson, each of these occasions will mean a dream come true.

"A church friend of mine who loved flying attended the Naval Academy and encouraged me to go. I was just an average student with A's and B's, but I really wanted to give it a try," Williamson said.

"Later, when I got my appointment, I was really excited and scared. Most of the others had had fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers at the academy. I was the first one to go from my family, and I didn't know a soul," he said.

Williamson said beginning the academy as a freshman, or "pleb", wasn't the greatest thing that ever happened to him.

"When we started out, they took away all our privileges," he said. "We weren't allowed to watch TV or go out on dates. Each day, we had to memorize the menu and be able to tell about one front-page news story and one sports story, besides all our required class work ....

"It was tough, but I went with the idea that I was going to make it. I had decided that I was staying .... They would have to drag me out." Williamson said he arrived at the academy to find he didn't have good study habits.

"My younger brother, John, is a senior at Moore High School, and I keep trying to encourage him to learn as much as possible in high school," Williamson said.

"When I arrived at the Naval Academy, I learned 25 people had perfect ACT scores," he said. "I realized right then I would have to work hard. But I really wanted this, and I'm happy to say I made it."

Williamson, who played football for Moore High School, earned a varsity letter in football at the academy.

"Football at the academy was very tough. I really wasn't big enough to be on the starting line, but I did enjoy being on the team," he said.

Summer cruises were also included in Williamson's education at the academy. In 1983, he traveled to Tokyo, Japan, Korea and Hawaii while learning about shipboard life in a fleet.

The 1984 summer cruise was designed to give naval students service selections. After this, Williamson hopped military flights to West Germany, traveled by car to Paris and returned to the United States by way of Germany and Sweden.

In the summer of 1985, he spent four weeks at the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, Calif.

Williamson, who loves to travel, said he had no idea when he arrived at the Naval Academy how far his studies would take him. "I looked at it as a challenge, and it has been that and more," he said. "Now I am just looking forward to graduation and getting married."

Williamson will graduate May 21 and will marry Sarita Brown, daughter of Pat and Frances Brown of Oklahoma City, on June 7. He will begin flight training Aug. 10.

It should be a big summer for the Moore High School graduate, but he is excited about the future.

"Going to the Naval Academy was definitely a challenge for me," he said. "If I had a dime for all the times I thought about going home I'd be rich.

"But now I feel I have my foot in the door. I can't wait to begin flying and I am very interested in the space program.

"It's a thrill to reach a goal, and I hope other students from Moore will reach out for something they want. I feel I am proof even an average student can succeed if he is determined."

The Daily Oklahoman also reported in a Veteran's Day article about the Williamson family members who have served in the military, on November 11, 2003, that Jay served as a Navy pilot in Pakistan and Malaysia.

Related Articles

Robert Nemecek '80, Dennis Redmond '86, Mark Hamilton '87, Ned Metcalf, Jr. '87, and Martin Cox '88 were also lost in the collision of two P-3 Orions of Patrol Squadron (VP) 50 off the coast of southern California on March 21, 1991.

Class of 1986

Jay is one of 8 members of the Class of 1986 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

QR code

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.