POINT PLEASANT — With valor.
That phrase and distinction was described by Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams as “extraordinary effort” and a willingness to sacrifice your life if needed in a time of battle. Williams was the keynote speaker at a ceremony that honored James McCormick, a veteran of the U.S. Army, for actions he took in combat in 2004 during the Iraq War. McCormick, of Mason County, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor inside the main courtroom at the Mason County Courthouse on Thursday.
Williams, an honored West Virginia veteran, spoke about McCormick’s actions and the sacrifices of military families. Williams said his own focus has been on Gold Star families as of late, adding, “Everybody grieves and everybody suffers” when they lose a loved one who has served their country.
While McCormick’s citation was read aloud, West Virginia National Guard Brig. Gen. David Buckalew pinned the medal to McCormick’s jacket. After salutes and handshakes, McCormick said a few words, adding the whole experience was “humbling.” He pointed out his friends, family and “Gold Star mother” who were in attendance.
“I wear this for everybody else that couldn’t wear it,” he said. “Somebody just happened to see me. There are a lot of heroes out there. I take (the medal) as a tremendous honor. I will wear it for those that could not make it home.”
McCormick said he was a little nervous the night before the ceremony, and after he drifted off to sleep he dreamt of his late grandmother who smiled at him in the dream. He told those in attendance it gave him “a level of peace that you can only know” from family. He thanked those in attendance for their kindness and the U.S. Army for “not forgetting me.”
McCormick remains in an active role supporting veterans and is director for the West Virginia Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Project for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. The program utilizes both the Gen. John McCausland Farm on the southern end of Mason County and the Lakin Farm on the northern end of the county. The project identifies veterans who want to become involved in farming. The McCausland Farm is used as a training site for veterans who wish to become involved in beekeeping for honey production, as well as growing berries that were once indigenous to the farm. On the Lakin Farm, massive amounts of sweet potatoes and cabbage will be grown and hopefully sold back to state agencies such as prisons, regional jails, schools, etc., to cut down on the amount of food West Virginia imports.
The ceremony began with remarks by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., who said sending McCormick the medal in the mail was “not who we are as West Virginians.” Manchin also said that less than 1 percent of troops who served in Iraq have been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
Mason County Circuit Clerk Bill Withers also spoke at the ceremony and Brooke Price sang “America the Beautiful.”
Manchin hosted a town hall meeting after the ceremony. More on this meeting will be in Saturday’s Point Pleasant Register.