Hoyt Williams couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about Friday. Actually, it was all about him.
Hoyt, who is 96-years-old, received long overdue World War II service medals during special ceremonies at the Chattooga County Memorial Home between Summerville and Trion Friday afternoon.
“I don’t feel like I did anything great, I just did what I was supposed to do,” he said. “As soon as this party is over I’m going back to work.”
Many of his coworkers at the Walmart in Trion were on hand to help pay tribute to him.
Georgia Adjutant General Thomas Carden and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Mike Roby were on hand for the medal ceremony Friday.
Carden pinned the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with silver star; the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory medal; Sharpshooter Badge & Rifle Bar; Marksman Badge & Carbine Bar and the Honorable Lapel Button for World War II on Williams jacket as the sprightly veteran stood at attention through the pinning.
“You have set an amazing example for all of us,” Carden said. “I wish all Americans could be in this room today. Today is a now lesson (in service) that this country desperately needs.”
Carden said he was honored to participate in the ceremonies celebrating Williams because, according to Carden, the country doesn’t pause often enough to recognize the kind of sacrifice Williams and others who fought for the freedoms all Americans enjoy today.
Commissioner Roby reminded a large audience that Williams was a part of “The Greatest Generation” which paved the way for opportunities all Americans have today.
“You served honorably, with courage and valor,” Roby said.
Williams served with an engineers supply company in England, France Belgium and Germany between 1943 and 1945. His unit was then sent to the Philippine Islands but the war ended four days after his unit arrived.
“We handled screwdrivers, marking pencils, bulldozers, Quickway truck cranes, pontoon bridges and Bailey bridges (pre-fabricated truss bridge),” Williams said. “I guess we handled the bridge that they probably crossed the Rhine River on.”
Given the opportunity to speak during the ceremony, Williams told the crowd he was simply overwhelmed.
“I’m at a loss for words, and that doesn’t happen too often,” Williams said.