Jackson resident and U.S. Army veteran Clettis Williams received a Purple Heart on Monday for his time spent fighting in the Korean War.

Surrounded by friends and family, Williams happily accepted his Purple Heart in Downtown Augusta, an award which took a long time, but finally came, Williams said. The oldest military award, the Purple Heart is awarded to those who were wounded or killed during combat.

“It was a wonderful event,” Williams, 81, said. “Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson gave me the Purple Heart, and it was just really nice to finally have it. There were maybe six or seven of us there.”

Williams spent six years in the Army working as a machine-gunner, joining in 1949 and then was honorably discharged in 1955.

“I went into basic training at Fort Knox in Kentucky and then went to Japan where I was stationed for a while,” Williams said. “I left Japan and then went to Korea at the start of the war. I was only 17 years old.”

After Williams was hit in the arm with a grenade, he spent seven days in the hospital having pieces of shrapnel removed.

Once Williams returned to the U.S., he volunteered to go to Alaska with the Army and later volunteered in Iceland before spending time at Fort Benning.

Williams now lives in Jackson where he has called home for more than 20 years.

“The medal is 62 years late, but it means a whole lot to get it,” Williams said. “I’m very proud to be a veteran, it means a lot. Knowing that people care about you means a whole lot. And that’s what it’s all about.”