Yeager Airport dedicates military operations center to WWII hero Woody Williams

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As the Marines’ Hymn was playing and the cover being taken off of to unveil the military flight operations center in his name, Hershel “Woody” Williams could not help but to wipe away tears.

Williams, a retired United States Marine Corps warrant officer and Medal of Honor recipient from Quiet Dell, was taken by surprise by the new Hershel “Woody” Williams Military Flight Operations Center at Yeager Airport on Friday morning.

In front of a crowd of a couple of hundred people that included current and former Marines, Williams said the day is not about him but the Marines who surrounded him.

Woody Williams speaks to the media on Friday following the dedication.

“I represent somebody else,” Williams told the media. “When I wear this medal, I really wear it for those who never got to come home. Because without them, I would not be the possessor of this medal.”

Williams received the military’s highest decoration of valor for heroism in World War II, on the island of Iwo Jima. Williams is the only surviving Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.

On Friday, he called himself only the caretaker of the medal, pointing to all those that served with him that never made it back home. He was proud to have the facility named after him in front of veterans.

“Without those participating and without those doing all the arraigning and making the thing possible, it wouldn’t have any meaning,” Williams said. “The fact that people care enough to recognize the fact that there are those in the armed forces that do go above and beyond, not for themselves.”

The more than 2,000 square foot facility located at the Capital Jet Center at Yeager Airport is available to the military aviation units. It is the anchor in the airport’s mission to recruit more military efforts to the area.

The center consists of flight planning, operations, briefing, equipment lockers, communications, and office space.

Airport officials hope this to provide an economic boost and said the detachments will help invigorate the economy through spending on goods and services such as fuel, hotels, and meals.

A current Marine presents Williams with gifts following the ceremony.

Yeager Airport Assistant Director James Mason, who has led the way with Assistant Director Nick Keller, said the ceremony he has already seen the benefits to the center and more is coming.

Mason said the future may consist of a carrier strike group or a Marine expeditionary unit with a couple of thousand military personnel and 20 to 50 aircraft coming out of this area as training base at the same time.

As Williams said the center recognition was beyond his wildest dreams, he hopes that it can be able to inspire any serviceman or woman that uses it.

“An average farm boy from West Virginia, if he is able to do something that is a little outstanding than perhaps I can push myself another foot, another step, I will not drop out of a march and I will keep on going.”

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