Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Fr. William D. Willet

Chaplain Willett was a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky. He was born  and raised on a farm near the small town of Fancy Farm, KY. He graduated from Murray State  University with a BS in Agriculture and Business. He graduated from St. Meinrad School of Divinity with a Masters of Divinity in 1979. He served in the Army as a chaplain for nearly twenty years at several assignments in the states and overseas.
Prior to becoming a chaplain, Chaplain Willett began his time in the Army in 1967 as an Infrantryman and served in Vietnam with the 2 BN 8th CAV, 1st Calvary Division as a squad leader. He received a direct commission in the U.S. Army Reserves as a second Lieutenant in the Staff Specialist Branch as a Chaplain Candidate in 1976.
Chaplain Willett is a graduate of the Chaplain Basic and Advanced Courses, Basic Airborne and Jump Master Courses, Air Assault School, School Combined Arms Staff Service School, Command and General Staff College, and the Division Chaplain Course, and Installation Chaplain Course.
Chaplain Willett’s previous assignments include 7th Transportation BN, 2BN 504 INF, attachments to 2 BN 327 INF (101 Airborne DIV) and 1BN 325 INF (82 Airborne DIV) while serving in the Sinai, Egypt, 1 BN 508 INF, and 2 BN 505 INF while assigned to Ft. Bragg, NC. He next served with the 6 Transportation BN at Ft. Eustis, VA before being moved to Germany to the 1 BN 69 AR at Kitzingen, FRG and then as the 1BDE Chaplain, 3ID at Schweinfurt, Germany.
While stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany he was sent to the Persian Gulf War where he served with the 210th Field Artillery BDE supporting the 2D Armored Calvary Regiment. After returning from Germany he was stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY as the Aviation BDE Chaplain and the deputy 101st Division Chaplain. Then back to Germany at Illesheim as the 11 Aviation Regiment Chaplain where that unit was deployed to Bosnia for eight months. Returning from Bosnia he was assigned as the 410 BSB Chaplain before returning to the states at FORSCOM, Ft. Hood in June of 2000 and served as the Deputy Command COSCOM Chaplain and deputy Garrison Chaplain in Post Chapel as OIC. In Jan 02 he was assigned as the SETAF Command Chaplain in Vicenza, Italy. On February 2, 2004 Chaplain Willett was moved to Aberdeen Proving Grounds as the Post & Garrison Command Chaplain. He retired from active duty in June 2005. In June 2009 the Army recalled him for two years – one year in Iraq and the same day he left that assignment he boarded a C-17 ammunition plane and flew to Afghanistan for another year. He retired after two assignments in June 2011.
Chaplain Willett’s awards include Bronze Star (2OLC), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (4OLC), Air Medal, Armed Forces Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1OLC), Army Achievement Medal (2OLC), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (4BS), Southwest Asia Service Medal (2), Armed Services Service Medal, Multinational Forces & Observers Medal (2 Service Periods), Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Liberation Medal – Kuwait, NATO Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and the Air Assault Badge.
Fr. Willett is survived by his sisters, Judy Johnson of DeMoine, IA, Mary Ann Volgelwede of Deleware, and Carol Speed of Fancy Farm, Ky; his brothers, Elton Willett of Memphis, TN, Joseph L Willett of Fancy Farm, KY and Kenneth Willett of Hoover, AL; several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph ‘Harold’ and Mary Eula Mills Willett; sisters, Marian Willett and Jean M. Willett.