It was a special meeting ... generations of Marines interacting ... embracing their shared experiences.
"It does make the heart go pitty-pat. It really does."
GySgt Joseph Clayton
Ft. Sill Marine Detachment
"He gave an awesome speech earlier. It was very emotional - a lot of marines were crying."
Medal of Honor Recipient
"I tried to encourage them & tell them that they are the future of America."
Woody Williams told the young marines about the day he earned the Medal of Honor. February 23rd, 1945 ... the same day of the iconic flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi.
Williams' outfit was facing heavy fire from the bunkers -- or "pill boxes." Comrades were falling all around him. So, Williams' commanding officer asked if he could do something about the pillboxes.
"The six Marines that were under me when I hit the beach had either been killed or wounded. So I am the last in my company of that group. And I have no idea what I said, others said, but I replied, 'I will try.'"
Williams succeeded in blowing out seven pillboxes in four hours ... using six flame-thorwers.
"So they attributed me with opening that hole to enable us to advance. I had lots of help from marines - two of those four Marines gave their life that day protecting mine. So when I wear this medal, I don't wear it for what I did. I was just doing the job for which I was trained. I wear it in their honor. It really belongs to them. Not me."
"Being able to be in his presence and shake his hand was an awesome feeling."
"Semper fidelis -- always faithful. That's what I'd like them to remember. And we are still keeping tradition today."
Fort Sill's commander -- Major General David Halverson -- presented commander's coins to the vets. Williams says he's humbled:
"I represent other Marines ... specifically, those who never got to come home. I accept that on the basis that this medal - this coin - it's supposed to be a coin - challenge coin, we call them -- I accept that in honor of all those that I honor."
You're invited to attend several of the Iwo Jima reunion events starting tomorrow ...
Here's the schedule:
Feb. 16- Feb 19th
Holiday Inn at the Falls
Opening Ceremony 9 a.m. Friday
Flag Raising Reenactment 10 a.m. Saturday
Memorial Service 9 a.m. Sunday
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