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2016 Volvo and UAW Veterans Ride for Freedom

25th Anniversary

 

2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of the UAW Veterans Ride for Freedom/Run to the Wall. During these 25 years, the Volvo New River Valley Truck Plant in Dublin Virginia has proudly supported this event and the Veterans Committee of UAW local 2069 in numerous, ways including providing a veterans themed tribute truck.

 

This year’s truck, designed by Veterans Committee members, is a tribute to all who have served our military, to those who have paid the ultimate supreme sacrifice for our freedom and the American dream, and to those who remain POW/MIA and their families.

 

This year, the Ride for Freedom truck pays particular tribute to our WWII veterans, both European and Pacific theaters.

 

The flamethrower: Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woodie” Williams, is from the great state of West Virginia, entering the Marine Corps Reserve in May, 1943.

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After training, Woodie quickly found himself in combat against the Japanese, in the deep jungles of Guam.

 

His next campaign was Iwo Jima, where he distinguished himself with actions "above and beyond the call of duty".   He was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Landing on Iwo Jima, February 21, 1945, Corporal Williams distinguished himself two days later.   American tanks, trying to open a lane for infantry, encountered a network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands. Williams went forward with his flamethrower to attempt the reduction of devastating machine gun fire and, in the end, eliminated seven pillboxes.

William’s actions occurred on the same day as the raising of the U.S. flag on the island's Mount Suribachi, although he was unable to witness the event. He fought through the remainder of the five-week battle and was wounded on March 6, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.

He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on Oct. 5, 1945.

 

Hershel W. Williams Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided in enabling his company to reach its objective. Corporal Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Services.

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Ron Hendrix