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‘A True Hero’: Medal of Honor Recipient Honored by AEP

by on June 29, 2018
Brian Tierney (left) presents Medal of Honor recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams with a commemorative plaque recognizing his service, on behalf of AEP.

A very special VIP took a ride to Baltimore, Md., recently aboard one of AEP’s aircraft, preceded by a reception attended by AEP employees and family members.

Herschel “Woody” Williams, a U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and one of only four surviving Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, was provided a flight on the corporate jet with Richard Rogers, chief pilot – Aviation, at the controls.

AEP donated the use of the corporate jet to allow Williams to attend the dedication of a new Gold Star Families Memorial monument honoring fallen military veterans and their families.

Williams is the last surviving Marine Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, and was given the honor of performing the game-opening coin toss at the most recent Super Bowl held in February 2018.

Prior to his flight, he was given a reception by about 35 family members, friends and AEP employees, including Brian Tierney, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“There’s no way we can properly express our appreciation to you for what you have done, and for what all of those who served beside you also have done for our country,” said Tierney, who presented Williams with a plaque commemorating the event and recognizing his service. “You are a true hero, not only because what you have done in your military service, but how you continue to actively serve military veterans and their families. This is one small way that we extend our thanks, respect and admiration to you.”

Williams, a resident of Fairmont, W.Va., and an Appalachian Power customer, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. As a demolitions-squad corporal during the Battle of Iwo Jima, on Feb. 23, 1945, he fought for hours to silence the enemy’s reinforced concrete pillboxes that had stopped his company’s advance and caused many casualties.

Williams’ foundation has helped fund the installation of Gold Star Families Memorial monuments at dozens of locations across the country.

Using demolition charges and flamethrowers, he neutralized one enemy gun emplacement after another, frequently struggling under fire to the rear of enemy positions to do so. On one occasion, he mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through an air vent; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets. His actions were instrumental in enabling his company to reach its objective.

These actions occurred on the same day that the U.S. flag was raised by soldiers on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi in what became the most iconic image from the war. Read more about Williams’ story in Stars and Stripes.

He is co-founder of a non-profit organization, The Herschel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, that seeks to establish Gold Star Families Memorials throughout the United States. Any organization or group of people can establish a Gold Star Families Memorial monument through the program. The foundation provides guidelines, information, and support to help those taking on the challenge of establishing a monument. So far, 33 monuments have been completed and 50 more are in progress in 36 states. His foundation also offers scholarships to children in Gold Star Families.

“These monuments pay tribute to the families who have lost a loved one in any conflict,” Williams said. “The purpose of each monument is to honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that freedom is not free.”

From → News From AEP

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