Higgins Memorial Mess Night Celebrates 40th Year with Iwo Jima Medal of Honor Recipient and Veterans - “Among the Men Who Fought on Iwo Jima, Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue” Chester W. Nimitz, Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy, March 16, 1945

40th Higgins Memorial Mess Night 2010

Lexington, Kentucky; May 8, 2010:  Marines from throughout Kentucky gathered at the Crowne Plaza Lexington (The Campbell House) to enjoy the traditions and camaraderie at 40th Annual Colonel William R. "Rich" Higgins Memorial Mess Night, hosted by the Officer Selection Team (Lexington), Marine Corps Recruiting Station Louisville (MCRSL).  Guest of Honor for the evening was Hershel "Woody" Williams, CWO-4, USMCR (Retired), recipient of our nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for heroic actions during the legendary World War II battle of Iwo Jima.  With 53 officer candidates from various Kentucky universities and colleges in attendance, Hershel "Woody" Williams spoke of the great responsibility which fell upon him as a 19 year old Marine, when then President Harry S. Truman placed the Medal of Honor around his neck at a White House ceremony.  Despite his youth, Hershel "Woody" Williams understood the obligation that he had to live his life in a manner which would never discredit the Medal of Honor and those who have been privileged to wear it throughout history.  In so doing he has served his nation with distinction for many years and continues to administer to veterans in his home state of West Virginia today.  Hershel "Woody" Williams spoke of the great challenges these young officer candidates will face as they prepare for their roles as leaders of Marines. Following a delicious meal, traditional challenges and resultant fines, a number of toasts were offered. Hershel "Woody" Williams was joined by other Iwo Jima veterans from Lexington: Joseph Lane and his wife Ann Lane and Paul N. Frederick and his wife Myrtle. During this, the 65th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima, it was an honor for the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK) to host these legendary Marine Corps veterans. Officer candidates were recognized by the MCCCK with the following 2010 traditional awards:  Outstanding Officer Candidate Academic Achievement Award (Books from the Commandant's Reading List) to Robert Stone Hayne, Transylvania University, sponsored by Kenneth F. Herrington III, Colonel, USMCR (Ret) (1971-2001); Corporal Aaron D. Robichaux "Iron Man" Memorial Award for Outstanding Physical Fitness (Marine Corps Bulldog Mascot Statue)  to Michael Wayne Wisotzkey, University of Louisville, sponsored by Jack R. Cunningham, USMC (1969-1972); Colonel William R. Higgins Leadership Award (Ka-Bar Knife) to David Samuel Mercer, University of Kentucky, sponsored by Edmund V. Armento, USMC (1965-1968); Outstanding Junior Officer Candidate Award (Marine Corps Officer's Jewelry Box) to Benjamin Richard Smith, University of Louisville, sponsored by Robert V. Evans, Jr., Colonel, USMCR (Retired) (1958-1983); and Second Lieutenant Terrence C. Graves Memorial Outstanding Senior Candidate Award (Mameluke Officer's Sword) to Garic Michael Salmonowicz, Western Kentucky University, sponsored by Russell B. Scott, Jr., USMC (1962-1968). Mess Night was attended by 96 Marines and future Marines, as Academic Year 2009-2010 came to a close in Kentucky. Congratulations to Major Rory B. Quinn, USMC, Commanding Officer, MCRSL, who served as President of the Mess and Captain Kapell Eugene, USMC, Officer Selection Officer (Lexington), who planned, organized and executed this very successful event. (Photograph by Sgt John E. Jackson, USMC, Marketing and Public Affairs, MCRSL) (Additional photos in "Galleries" section, courtesy of Maj Allen D. Broussard, USMC (Ret); Ed Armento, MCCCK Secretary, and Sgt John E. Jackson)