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WWII hero to dedicate Gold Star monument

Oct 19 2020
Corsicana Daily Sun

The last Medal of Honor recipient from the Pacific in World War II, Hershel “Woody” Williams will be in Corsicana to dedicate the Navarro County Gold Star monument at 4:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23 on the historic Navarro County Courthouse lawn.

Following the dedication, Williams will be the special guest at the Texas Veterans Parade Second Annual Medal of Honor Banquet at 6:30 p.m. at the Corsicana Country Club, where he will discuss the 36-day battle for Iwo Jima in 1945.

Limited tickets for the banquet are still available by calling Liz Brown at 903-879-7266.

The Bill McNutt Family Fund and The Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, are extremely proud to bring this unique American hero to Central Texas.

Seventy-five years ago, on Iwo Jima, U.S. Marine Corporal Hershel "Woody" Williams watched the American Flag being raised on Mount Suribachi before accepted the challenge of opening a lane for infantry and tanks through a network of Japanese reinforced-concrete pillboxes. With four fellow Marines providing covering fire, he went forward alone with a 70-pound flamethrower and took out seven pillboxes, killing the enemy in each. For this action, President Harry Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor in October 1945 at the White House.

Today Corporal Williams has a new challenge. He is determined to build a monument to Gold Star Families, in all 50 states. In large and patriotic states like Texas, he plans to have more than one monument. Williams always wondered why families who lost loved ones in battle or military service did not regularly receive public recognition for their sacrifices. Seven years ago, his organization began identifying unique and worthy places across America to do just that. Corsicana, because of its unique and long military history, was chosen from many applications.

"We are blessed to a hero of Iwo Jima, Woody Williams come to our county and our courthouse,” said H.M. Davenport, Navarro County Judge. "We know the veterans community and history buffs from all over Texas will want to share this unique time with one of the last living heroes from World War II."

"Navarro County has a rich and unique military history going back to the Texas Revolution,” said Woody Williams. Navarro County had 33 servicemen lose their lives in World War II, 22 men killed in the Korean War, 19 killed in the Vietnam War, and 1 in the War on terror.” "This beautiful and unique 15,000 pound black granite monument sends a message to the families of those who have sacrificed a loved one in military service for us and our freedom. I have worked with Bill McNutt on other World War II Veterans initiatives. Bill is a true patriot and he convinced us that this central Texas community deserved to be selected."

"This is an evergreen monument,” said Bill McNutt, III Texas Veterans Parade Founder and Chair of the Bill McNutt Family Fund. "It will be a constant reminder to our youth that freedom is not free, and a place for families to gather who have placed so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom."

The cornerstone donor for the monument is the Navarro County Foundation, created in 1938 by Frank Neal Drane. The current Chairman is Dr. David Campbell.

The Second Annual Medal of Honor banquet starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday Nov. 23, at the Corsicana Country Club. For those who would like to attend the banquet, a few tickets are still available. Please contact Liz Brown at 903-879-7266.

Gold Star Families across Texas and Oklahoma are invited. They should contact the CEO of the Texas Veterans Parade, retired Navy Captain Joe Hill at 337-496-3615 to find out about special arrangements being made for them at the dedication and the banquet that follows.

The Texas Veterans Parade Organization was founded by Bill McNutt in 2017. It exists to Honor Texas Veterans from all wars and conflicts, and to educate children about their sacrifices, freedom and liberty. The local organization has 32 members on their board of directors, including the leading veterans in the county and elected officials.

The purpose of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is to honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that Freedom is not free. This stunning 15,000 black granite monument features two sides. One side bears the words: Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families.

The other side tells a story through the four granite panels about Navarro County: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scenes on each panel are a reflection of Gold Star Families and their fallen Heroes. At the center of this tribute is the most distinct feature of the monument, the cut out which represents the Loved One who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Freedom.

A new date for the 2021 Texas Veterans Parade has been set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, 2021.

The Parade will begin and end at the County Courthouse, with Beaton and Main Streets as its primary route. The TVP will be followed by the Corsicana “AirSho.”

The website for the Texas Veterans Parade is www.TexasVeteransParade.com.