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FARMINGTON — World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams will visit Farmington this summer as a local group breaks ground on a Gold Star families monument.

Williams will be in Farmington on June 26 and 27 for a fundraising banquet and the groundbreaking ceremony.

Williams was a U.S. Marine corporal when he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the Battle of Iwo Jima during an attack against the forces of Japan that eliminated underground concrete pillboxes. Their destruction opened a pathway for the Marines to advance forward.

He first went underground with six other Marines to demolish the pillboxes, but his companions died. He returned underground with two other Marines and was once again the sole survivor.

He has since founded the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which has worked to build monuments for Gold Star families throughout the nation.

Two Gold Star families attend council meeting

Gold Star families are families who have lost a relative in combat. Two of those families attended a City Council meeting Tuesday as local residents asked for the monument to be located in a city park.

The parents of Army Spec. Clifton Yazzie and Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Roberts attended the council meeting to show support for the monument project.

Yazzie, a Fruitland resident, was killed Jan. 20, 2006 by a bomb in Al Huwijah, Iraq. Roberts, a Farmington resident who worked for San Juan County Fire Department, died May 7, 2008 when a roadside bomb detonated in Afghanistan.

Monument to be installed in All Veterans Memorial Plaza

Co-chair of the San Juan County Gold Star Families Monument Project Gary Smouse presented the plans to the Farmington City Council on Tuesday and requested permission to install the monument at the All Veterans Memorial Plaza in Berg Park. He said the monument will be seven feet tall and 13 feet long.

There are 72 monuments nationwide. These monuments consist of four granite panels. The center of the monument has a cutout in the shape of a soldier saluting.

The Farmington City Council approved locating the monument in the memorial plaza and, once it is installed, the city will maintain the monument.

“I think this fits in perfectly with what (All Veterans Memorial Plaza) is there for,” said Mayor Nate Duckett.

He described the monument as impactful.

“This has definitely been missing from this park,” said Councilor Sean Sharer.

Sponsors needed for monument

The monument will be paid for through sponsorships. Sponsorships start at $1,500. Sponsors can contact Ashley Ritter at 505-860-0806 or via email at ashley.a.ritter@gmail.com for information about donating. Smouse said the monument will likely cost between $35,000 and $60,000.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

 

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