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Citadel Class of 1957. Died a hero in the Air Florida Crash on January 13, 1982, that claimed 79 lives. Of the 74 passengers, 68 were killed on impact. Included in this number was George G. Mattar, Citadel class of 1963. Six passengers were alive in the frigid waters of the Potomac as rescue helicopters circled overhead, dropping a lifeline to crash survivors. Repeatedly refusing rescue Williams insisted on passing the line to others until the other five had been carried to safety. When the rescue helicopter returned one final time to pick up the last survivor, Williams could not be found.

A portion of the 14th Street bridge in Washington was named after him. President Ronald Reagan awarded him posthumously the Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal. When he died Williams was directing bank examiner of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta.

In his honor The Citadel created the Arland D. Williams Society to recognize graduates who distinguished themselves through community service. The first recipients were E. B. Peebles, Jr., Class of 1939 and Benjamin F. Webster, Class of 1957. According to Webster, William's nickname was "Chub."

The Citadel also established the Arland D. Williams Endowed Professorship of Heroism in his honor. The first two recipients were Col. Oliver Bowman, former professor of psychology, and Lt. Col. Julie Ann Lipovsky, professor of psychology. (Sources: "In Memoriam," The Sphinx, 1983, p. 395; "Reagan Honors Hero of Potomac Air Crash," Washington Post, June 7, 1983, p. A18; "Bridge Renamed for Air Crash Hero," Washington Post, March 14, 1985, p. C4; Charlene Gunnells, "Citadel Award Honors Memory of a Hero," Post & Courier, November 2, 2000, pp. 1B, 6B; The Guidon, 1999-2000, p. 41) 

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