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Williams to be first member of West Virginia Military Hall of Fame

Moment of silence planned at Gold Star Park in Marietta

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, right, speaks to employees of United Bank in 2019 at the bank’s headquarters as Vienna resident and fellow Marine Corps veteran Bernie Lyons laughs at one of his remarks. (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — The late Hershel “Woody” Williams will be the first inductee into the West Virginia Military Hall of Fame.

Gov. Jim Justice announced his nomination of Williams, who was the last surviving Medal of Honor winner from World War II, during his online COVID-19 briefing Thursday. Williams passed away Wednesday at the age of 98 in the Huntington Veterans Affairs hospital named for him.

The West Virginia Veterans Council met Thursday and unanimously approved Williams’ induction, according to a release from the governor’s office.

“Woody Williams was a man whose life was extraordinary beyond belief,” Justice said in the release. “Not only was his bravery on the battlefield unmatched, but he spent a lifetime going all across America as a tireless advocate for veterans. He was a wonderful friend to so many and a true American hero to all of us. His induction as the first member of this Hall of Fame is an incredibly fitting tribute to his lifetime of service.”

The Military Hall of Fame was created by the state Legislature this year through a bill sponsored by Delegate Roger Conley, R-Wood, and proposed by Vienna resident Bernie Lyons. Lyons is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who worked with Williams’ foundation to promote and establish Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments honoring those who lost loved ones in military service.

“I’m thrilled,” Lyons said of Williams being the first inductee.

Lyons and others will gather today at 3 p.m. at the Gold Star monument in Marietta’s Gold Star Park to honor Williams with a moment of silence It will be followed by a prayer, a wreath-laying, a rifle salute and the playing of “Taps.”

Similar activities are planned at other Gold Star monuments around the country, Lyons said.

“It’s to honor Woody and his memory, just a little thing that we can do,” he said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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