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Iwo Jima veteran to attend groundbreaking for Gold Star Monument

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Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the last known surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Battle of Iwo Jima, is coming to York Township.

Williams, 92, is a retired Marine who fought in World War II. He’s scheduled to be at a groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. May 29 for the Gold Star Monument to be built behind the Erhart/York Township Fire Station, 6609 Norwalk Road.

A veteran from Medina, Mickey Kennedy, is leading the effort to build the monument to honor Medina County veterans fallen in wars.

“(Kennedy) asked us if he could have a dedication and a simulated groundbreaking,” township Trustee Colene Conley told The Gazette on Tuesday.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell has been asked to be the master of ceremonies. He’ll introduce the trustees — Conley, Richard M. Monroe and William E. Pavlik — along with Ohio Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and state Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick.

The Buckeye Junior High School band will perform.

Kennedy has enlisted the help of Marine John Harkness to work on his committee. Harkness, of Medina, was in the news last Thanksgiving when he was collecting donations for the Toys for Tots campaign outside the Wal-Mart store in Medina Township. The store manager asked Harkness to accept donations outside the doors of the store. When someone posted a picture of Harkness standing in the rain, it drew the ire of thousands of people on social media.

Wal-Mart later decided to provide charities with a tent and heaters to protect them from rain, snow and cold.

Harkness will give the opening and closing prayers.

When the project is completed, Kennedy said, the monument will be 16 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall. Organizers will sell paver bricks around the monument for $100 and will honor Gold Star Families with members who didn’t return from war service.

The Gold Star is a symbol of honor within the Armed Forces that recognizes and honors families of service members killed in combat. The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation takes that concept a step further, commemorating soldiers and their families with Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the country.

Also on May 29, the annual York Township Memorial Day parade will start at 3 p.m. It will begin at York United Methodist Church, 6566 Norwalk Road, and proceed to the York cemetery.

Afterward, people will congregate at the fire station for hot dogs and snacks.

“It should be very nice,” Conley said.

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