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Wichita Falls event marks 74th anniversary of Battle for Iwo Jima

Feb 15 2019
Torin Halsey | Wichita Falls Times Record News

Their numbers are fewer each year, which seems to make the gathering that much more meaningful.  

The Iwo Jima and World War II Veterans Reunion marks the 74th anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima and it kicked off Friday morning with a rousing version of the Star Spangled Banner sung by Iwo Jima survivor Don Graves.

The annual event is an opportunity to recognize and honor members of the Greatest Generation as they come together to renew old friendships or make new ones.

Hershel "Woody" Williams is the perennial guest of honor having attended more than 20 of the reunions which was founded by Iwo Jima survivor Cy Young almost 30 years ago. Young passed away in March of 2017.

Williams is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.

In the citation from President Harry Truman, Williams was cited "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3rd Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 23 February 1945."

"Well, for me, it's almost like coming back home, because I've been here 23 years," said Williams of the event. "It's always been a tremendous pleasure."

The two-day event will include tours of Fort Sill and Sheppard Air Force Base, catered dinners, a reenactment of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, live music by Jay Hollis, and a missing man formation flyover.

The public is invited to come out and meet the veterans and learn more about one of the most pivotal battles in World War II during a "fireside chat" from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in the breakfast room of the Holiday Inn Express at 5300 Kell West Blvd.