Words and photos by Tina Reeves
It’s been seventy-five years since Hershel “Woody” Williams fought in the historic battle of Iwo Jima. And Williams – the only surviving Marine who received the Medal of Honor and also received a Purple Heart – continues his service by honoring American veterans through the Gold Star Families Memorial Foundation, which honors veterans by erecting monuments, awarding scholarships, and outreach.
When Williams headed to Farmington, NM in June 2019 to break ground on a new monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Thunderbird Harley-Davidson stepped up to help set up an Honor Escort for the Medal of Honor recipient.
Joining the escort was Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Thomas H. Begay, who joined the Marines at just 16 years of age. The Navajo Code Talker was a vital asset for delivering secret communications via Navajo Code, the only spoken military code that to this day remains undeciphered.
The two Medal of Honor recipients met at Thunderbird Harley, and what a historic moment it was to watch them greet and reminisce. When they’d fought the Battle of Iwo Jima, they’d been on opposite sides of the airstrip in the middle of the island, both watching the American Flag being raised on Mount Suribachi after American troops won the pivotal and grueling battle.
The day of the groundbreaking ceremony was declared Hershel “Woody” Williams day, and a group of 20 riders led the Honor Escort from Thunderbird Harley and were quickly joined by 75 more on the way to the ceremony site. The sight of that American flag on the back of a fellow rider’s Harley brought tears to my eyes as fellow patriots lined the roads honoring these heroes. Support the Hershel “Woody” Williams foundation at www.hwwmohf.org.