Donald Williams Jr was born in 1945 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. At that time, the entire area was engaged in the production of coal, largely for the war effort. Franklin D. Roosevelt was still the president. Donald was the only child of two fine, very religious parents. Although having been born with a decent level of intelligence, he was more interested and focused on drag racing and rock and roll throughout his high school years. Being persuaded by his parents, Donald enrolled in a college in northern Pennsylvania, from which he was promptly expelled.
After being expelled, Donald sought a new life of excitement with a move just off of Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn, N.Y. He spent a few years in Brooklyn working in the printing department of a major, international advertising corporation. Although he enjoyed his new role, his stay was quickly curtailed after two years at which time he entered the U.S. Army, first as a draftee and then a regular volunteer.
Ultimately, Donald volunteered for Vietnam, after a series of Basic training, A.I.T., a failed attempt at Flight School, and being assigned to a mechanized infantry in the mountains of Colorado. In Vietnam, he was assigned to an assault helicopter company as a door gunner. He participated in Operation Attleboro in Tay Ninh Province (complete with Agent Orange), and was on hand for one of the heaviest rocket and mortar attacks launched against Pleiku’s Camp Holloway in the Central Highlands.
Breathing in the thick gun powder and smelling feces and blood which he described in a battle scene in his novel, Eighteen For Mercy, wasn’t something he read somewhere. The smells, the confusion, dryness in the mouth, and the inability to swallow experienced in battle, was something Donald had experience during his time in Vietnam. He also saw the poverty and starvation similar to what is described throughout the book. Concluding his time in Vietnam, Donald finally returned home to Fort Bragg’s 18th Airborne Corps a Staff Sergeant.
FAMILY AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Shortly after his return from the Army, Donald once again enrolled in college. Having some success this time, he married a fine woman who eventually blessed him with four wonderful children — three boys and finally a girl.
He spent most of his professional life in the drug and alcohol treatment field where he designed treatment programs as the Vice Present of Adolescent Treatment for an inpatient facility. Donald conducted trainings for the State of Pennsylvania on addiction, teen suicide, Satanism, and counseling techniques. Prior to that, he was employed with a Children and Youth agency in the Protective Services Division for several years. Through his career, Donald became involved in developing a Drug Task Force in the city in which he resides.
THE DEATH OF HIS SON
Almost six years ago, a knock came at to he and his wife’s door at 1:30am. A warden from a Federal Penitentiary stepped inside accompanied by two other men. They informed them both that their second oldest son Eric had been murdered by an inmate. Shock. Horror. Donald knows the hysteria experienced by Jubal Blackburn and French Mary in Eighteen For Mercy. He understands being compelled to seek revenge and didn’t just write about those things; he lived them. As the characters in his book had to do, Donald also had to move forward and continue to live this life and hopefully experience some joy here and there among the struggles.
Eighteen For Mercy is his first novel. It is dedicated to his son, Eric.