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Monument honoring Gold Star families will be built at Skinner Plaza

Sep 05 2021
Nestor Licanto | KUAM News

A monument in honor of Gold Star families will be built soon at Skinner Plaza in Hagatna. The project recognizes the relatives of fallen service members is being funded primarily through a foundation established by the oldest living recipient of the medal of honor.

The Guam monument will be one of 87 already built, and 77 others being planned throughout the country by the Woody Williams Foundation. 97-year-old Hershel "Woody" Williams is not only the oldest living medal of honor recipient, he is the last honoree from World War II. He was recognized for his heroism during the historic battle of Iwo Jima.

According to his website, he established his gold star foundation because he found that "consideration and recognition of the families of those lost in military service was very inadequate."

Retired Army major Tim Ohno has been spearheading the local Gold Star Monument Project. He reached out to the foundation and to Williams for help.

"Bless his heart - he's already said, 'I wanna participate', we're going to try to Zoom him in virtually, the 24th of September, and I'm sure he'll be tickled that we're finally going to be able to make this happen," said Ohno.

"You guys can hear it right from him. He's an amazing, humble, patriotic individual and we're honored that he's able to participate."

Senator Joe San Agustin is fast-tracking a bill that will authorize the construction of the monument at Skinner Plaza. He met with Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio about holding a site dedication ceremony later this month. "Because we won't be able to get the bill on the floor by then, by the 24th, he's actually blessed it and granted that we do a site dedication, then once the bill passes then we do a groundbreaking ceremony," he shared.

A site was specifically chosen right next to the Purple Heart Monument at Skinner Plaza.

Retired Army sargeant major Rick Cruz of the Guam Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart says it has their full support, telling KUAM News, "It belongs right alongside the Purple Heart Monument. I don't see any other way that it could be placed anywhere being that with the monument...there's names already listed. Names down there been imprinted in the monument since veterans of World War II."

Ohno is grateful that the monument will finally be built, saying, "The saddest part I've had to hear from these Gold Star moms who I met throughout this process. There's two of them in particular have already passed. And actually related to this Gold Star family that at this point I'm tired, I just want any kind of monument. Unfortunately she's not here anymore. This maybe will provide some kind of closure for some of those families who are related."