Madison-Plains presents veteran’s diploma

Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer
On March 21, the Madison-Plains school board presented a diploma to Glenn “Tom” Williams (far right) in honor of Williams’ father, who had left school early to help support his family and later serve in World War II.

(Posted March 22, 2017)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Glenn Charles Williams left Mount Sterling High School after 10th grade to help support his large family.

He worked as a farmhand and later as a clerk at the Tenny Hotel in Mount Sterling, which stood where the hardware store is now.

In 1940, Williams joined the U.S. Marines. He, like so many others at that time, could see war clouds forming, said his son, Glenn Thomas “Tom.”

Because Williams, who died in 1980, did not finish school, he did not have a high school diploma. That void was filled March 21 when the Madison-Plains school board presented Tom with a diploma for his father.

“He was a good man,” said Tom, holding the diploma, presented in a green holder just as it is for today’s graduates. “He taught me to love the flag, love my country, and love my family.”

Other family members include Madison-Plains school board member, Mark Mason, and Madison-Plains athletic director, Matt Mason, Tom’s second cousins.

Several months ago, Mark Mason pushed for a board policy to award diplomas to veterans who left school to fight for their country in World War II, Korea or Vietnam and who received a honorable discharge.

“We’ve always had the policy,” Mason said, but he wanted it pointed out that the policy went along with state guidelines.

Tom applied for the diploma through the Madison County Veterans Services office located at the county courthouse in London.

Williams completed basic training at Parris Island and served as an instructor at Quantico, Va. He then was shipped to Hawaii, then Guam, and was one of the first Marines off LST-779 on Iwo Jima, where he spent 26 days in combat. (An LST is a landing ship tank.)

“He never saw a Japanese soldier, but he heard them and returned fire,” said Tom.

Williams watched the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi. The flag came from LST-779.

Tom said his father would talk about his war experiences, but he said, “I can tell it troubled him.”

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