WWII Medal of Honor recipient to break ground on Gold Star families monument
The veteran will be on hand for two days of events
FARMINGTON — A World War II Medal of Honor recipient will visit Farmington next week as he attends multiple events including a ground-breaking ceremony for the first monument to honor Gold Star families and relatives in New Mexico.
Hershel "Woody" Williams is scheduled to arrive in San Juan County on June 26 via a motorcade from Albuquerque and will be on-hand for three events on the 26th and 27th in Farmington.
Williams founded the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation with the goal of building monuments for Gold Star families across the United States.
Martin Caddell, co-chair of the monument committee, said Williams is traveling to Farmington for the ground-breaking ceremony because it will be the first monument in New Mexico and will mark the 43rd state the foundation has installed monuments in.
Caddell stated co-chair Gary Smouse was the "brainchild" of the monument after they both discussed ways to instill pride in the community and came to the conclusion of a monument to honor the families and relatives of U.S. military members who died in combat.
A committee was formed for the SJC Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and a space at the All Veterans Memorial Plaza in Berg Park was selected after approval from the Farmington City Council and other city agencies.
The committee reached out to Williams' foundation about three months ago to figure how to partner with them to make this monument happen.
As talks progressed, the committee found an opening in Williams' schedule as he travels to Utah for an event later this month when he could visit Farmington.
"He wants to see a monument in every state before he passes," Smouse said.
A motorcade through Bloomfield and Aztec into Farmington is planned for Williams' visit along with two public events and a private fundraiser.
Williams' motorcade is scheduled to travel into Bloomfield around noon on June 26 along U.S. Highway 550 and travel into Aztec on U.S. Highway 550 around 12:15 p.m. then along New Mexico Highway 516 into Farmington around 12:30 p.m. to the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park at 3041 E. Main St.
Smouse and Caddell encourage people to line the motorcade route as area first responders and members of the Patriot Guard Riders escort Williams around San Juan County.
The "Stand in Honor" banquet is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on June 26 at the Farmington Civic Center.
The private fundraising event will help raise the projected cost of $100,000 for the monument and work around the site. Auctioneer Myers Jackson will conduct an auction during the event.
A public ground-breaking ceremony is set for 2 p.m. on June 27 at All Veterans Memorial Plaza in Berg Park for the monument.
Later than night, an "Evening with Hershel 'Woody' Williams" is set for 7 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center.
Williams and WWII Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay will be interviewed during the event. Begay is also scheduled to perform the Marine Corps Hymn in the Navajo language.
Tickets are $12 and on sale at the Civic Center box office.
Those interested in seating at the banquet are encouraged to contact Ashley Ritter at 505-860-0806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.