A new $25 million Army National Guard Armory bears the name of a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient.
Hundreds of veterans, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Sen. Joe Manchin and other dignitaries gathered in Fairmont Thursday for the dedication of the armory in honor of Hershel “Woody” Williams.
Williams was joined by family members and about 300 fellow marines at the ceremony. A Marine, he served in World War II, earned the Medal of Honor and has been recognized several times for bravery in service and his continued dedication to helping veterans.
Lt. Col. David Lester with the West Virginia National Guard said Williams has continued to work in support of fellow veterans. He played a key role in the creation of a veterans nursing facility in Clarksburg.
“To name an Army building after a Marine is a big deal,” Lester said. “And the reason we did it is not only because of Woody’s efforts on behalf of the United States in World War II, but also for all the work he’s done for veterans since he returned.”
The facility will replace the old Fairmont Armory, which will be taken over by the Marion County Board of Education. An Army Reserve building in Fairmont will also move into the new Armory, Lester said.
The structure will feature a huge multipurpose room, officers, sleeping quarters and a top-notch kitchen, Lester said.
“A lot of state-of-the-art communications, lighting and all that for the soldiers that are going to be in there,” Lester said.
An official opening is scheduled for the spring.
The Armory has been talked about for years, with the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd playing an instrumental part in securing funding for the facility.
Lester says it will be a huge benefit to the National Guard, the public and soldiers who use it.
“This will give our soldiers a first-class training environment so the next level of warriors is prepared to do their mission,” he said.