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Gold Star Monument dedication is Sunday

World War II veteran will speak at ceremony

The last surviving United States Marine to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor will be on hand Sunday to help dedicate a new Gold Star Monument in Webster County.

Herschel “Woody” Williams, 95, of West Virginia, is one of several scheduled to speak at the dedication, which is Sunday beginning at 1:45 p.m. at Webster County Veterans Memorial Park, 1386 National Ave.

Williams is a veteran of Iwo Jima, according to Tom Dorsey, who serves on the Webster County Veterans Affairs Commission.

“He got there the day that they raised the flag,” Dorsey said. “He wasn’t a part of it, but he was there that day.”

The monument itself will honor families who have lost a loved one to war.

“And so we’ve got a beautiful monument out there made by Kallin-Johnson,” Dorsey said.

In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense’s website, Williams described what it was like when he arrived in Iwo Jima on Feb. 21, 1945.

He recalled what it was like trying to dig in the sand.

“Trying to dig a hole in that stuff was like trying to dig a hole in marbles,” he said. “Trying to run on it was almost impossible. You couldn’t get a foothold.”

Two days later, the Defense Department wrote that Williams, who was the only demolition sergeant left after the others were lost in battle, volunteered as the last flamethrower to help stop the Japanese forces.

In the battle that ensued, Williams, according to the Defense Department, took out seven pillboxes. He would prepare the explosives in a safe area then carefully move back to where the Japanese were before detonating the charges.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor on Oct. 5, 1945 by President Harry Truman.

Williams would go on to create the Herschel Woody Williams Foundation, which honors families that have lost love ones in the service of the United States.

In addition to Williams, Dorsey said the ceremony Sunday will also feature Marine Sgt. Dennys Canto, Webster County Supervisor Mark Campbell, Fort Dodge City Councilman Terry Moehnke, and the Color Guard from VFW Post 1856.

Dorsey said Canto will give a speech entitled “Was it Worth It?”

The ceremony is open to the public, but Dorsey recommended bringing a chair because the ceremony will not actually be at the amphiteater, but near the other monuments.

“We encourage people to come out there,” Dorsey said.