CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Many West Virginians are anticipated to take time out of their long holiday weekend to remember one of the state’s heroes. Memorial services are planned for this weekend for Hershel Woody Williams, the last Medal of Honor recipient of World War II.
Williams died Wednesday at the age of 98.
His body will be transported in a procession Saturday morning from Huntington to Charleston starting at 8.a.m. Governor Jim Justice’s staff released the processional route Friday. It will start at Huntington’s Beard Mortuary and travel U.S. Route 60 through Cabell County and finally enter I-64 east bound at Milton. The procession will head east on I-64 into Charleston and exit the interstate at the Greenbrier Street exit in Charleston to arrive at the State Capitol.
Along the route, through Cabell County many are expected to line the roadways to pay their final respects. Along the interstate every overpass and exit is expected to be crowded with those wishing to give a final salute to a West Virginia hero.
“For veterans in general he meant the world to us. He was our greatest champion here in West Virginia. We have lost somebody who has worked tirelessly for us ever since he got out of the Marine Corps,” said Jim McDade Commander of American Legion Post 187 in Winfield.
McDade and his members plan to be on the overpass at the U.S. Route 35 interchange in Putnam County to wave flags and salute. McDade said it wasn’t just for veterans, he hoped everybody would join them around 8:15 a.m.
“Veterans groups will be saluting his procession as it goes by and the Teays Valley Fire Department will have their big ladder truck and displaying the flag off of it,” he explained. “We hope people will be there to wave small flags as well.”
A number of communities along the route have also indicated plans for a show of respect to Williams as his hearse passes by.
Williams’ body will be placed in the lower rotunda of the State Capitol where he will lie in state. According to state Culture and History Director Randall Reid-Smith, Williams becomes only the third to ever lie in state in the West Virginia State Capitol. Senator Robert C. Byrd Byrd lay in state in the Capitol’s lower rotunda in 2010. Congressman John Kenna was the first to lie in state at the Capitol, but it was at the old West Virginia Capitol in downtown Charleston in 1893.
The public will be able to file past and view the casket from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. His funeral will be in the Culture Center at the Capitol Complex at 4 p.m. Sunday. Seating inside the Culture Center to the public will be first come, first served. Overflow seating along with video and audio of the service will be available outside.
The public will be required to enter the Capitol through the public entrance at the Capitol’s west wing security checkpoint. Parking will be first come/first serve in Capitol parking areas and at the Laidley Field parking lot with shuttle services.
You’ll be able to watch the service at wvmetrones.com.
“Prior to his death, we told all of the people we would absolutely conduct the celebration of his life in the biggest way the state could possibly offer,” said Governor Jim Justice.