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Medal of Honor Hero, trophy presented at Friday Night Football Game

Oct 30 2019
Corsicana Daily Sun

The Texas Veterans Parade, in conjunction with the Bill McNutt Family Fund, announces the creation of the Medal of Honor Trophy to be awarded each time the Corsicana Tigers and the Ennis Lions play football.

The last living Medal of Honor holder from Iwo Jima and the Pacific War, Hershel “Woody” Williams will be at the Corsicana/Ennis game on Friday, Nov. 1 to honor his fellow Iwo Jima Marine, Jack Lummus. He will flip the coin prior to the game at Tiger Stadium in Corsicana and present the trophy.

Williams also flipped the coin at Superbowl 52, played in Minnesota between the Patriots and the Eagles.

The trophy honors an American hero and Medal of Honor recipient from each high school, Jack Lummus from Ennis and the battle for Iwo Jima in World War II, and Candelario “Spider” Garcia from Corsicana and the Vietnam war.

The trophy will be kept by the winning school’s athletic department until the next game is played.

“It is unique that two Texas towns and high schools, so close together, would both have Medal of Honor recipients,” said Williams, a retired Marine Corporal from West Virginia.

“I am happy to get to pay tribute to my fellow combat veteran from Iwo Jima, Jack Lummus and to Spider Garcia, by flipping the coin at this year’s game.”

“The Corsicana Ennis rivalry is historic and deserves a trophy that captures the spirit of both communities and pays homage to our unique past.” said Bill McNutt, a 1973 Corsicana High graduate. “Having Medal of Honor Woody Williams at the first game when the trophy is presented is special. ”

“Corsicana and Ennis are patriotic communities with strong support for veterans. This trophy is unique in all of Texas and will serve as an annual reminder of the cost of freedom.” said Shade Boulware, the Executive Director for Extracurricular Programs at Corsicana High School.

“When our star Ennis Lions athlete was killed on Iwo Jima and received the Medal of Honor, it was a source of sadness and pride for everyone in Ennis.” said Don Drake, Ennis Athletic Director. “To honor his memory with the trophy is simply the right thing to do.”

Jack Lummus was an All-District Football Player at Ennis High School and went on to play for the Baylor Bears and the New York Football Giants. On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Lummus and the Giants were playing a game and the Associated Press ticker in the press box gave out a message saying, “Airplanes identified as Japanese have attacked the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.” The players continued the game, knowing nothing of the attack. After playing in the NFL championship game a few weeks later, the Giants End from Ennis enlisted in the Marine Corps on Jan. 30, 1942.

Lummus, a first lieutenant, was in the first wave of troops to land at Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. He and his platoon spent the next two weeks incessantly fighting the dug-in Japanese. On Feb. 23, he was spotting targets on the slopes of Mt. Suribachi for artillery and airstrikes.

Nearby, his fellow Marine Woody Williams accepted the challenge of opening a lane for infantry and tanks through a network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, going forward alone with a 70-pound flamethrower to reduce devastating machine gunfire. Two of the four riflemen providing covering fire for him were killed.

For more than four hours, Williams repeatedly returned to his lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain fresh flame throwers. He disabled six enemy pillboxes, killing all the enemies in each. President Harry Truman awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor at the White House on Oct. 5, 1945.

On March 8, 1945, the former Ennis Lions football player Lummus was spearheading a final assault on an objective east of Kitano Point, near the northern edge of the island. Despite minor wounds received from grenade fragmentation, Lummus knocked out three enemy strongholds, well-fortified positions arranged to defend each other, which were preventing his platoon from reaching its objective. Following this action, he stepped on a land mine and was mortally wounded. While lying on the ground, he urged his platoon on, until he was carried off to an aid station. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He is buried in Ennis.

Candelario “Spider” Garcia, Jr. was born in Corsicana Feb. 26, 1944 and was a 1962 graduate of Corsicana High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1963, and his actions on Dec. 8, 1968, while serving in Vietnam caused him to receive the Medal of Honor. In a battle near Lai KhĂȘ, Vietnam, Garcia destroyed two enemy machine-gun positions in an attempt to aid casualties that were in the open and under fire, then rejoining his company in a successful assault on the remaining enemy positions. He died on Jan. 10, 2013 and is buried in Corsicana.

The Texas Veterans Parade is held annually in Corsicana on Armed Forces Day, each May. Their mission statement is as follows: “To honor Texas Veterans of all wars and conflicts. To teach our school children about the sacrifices of Texas Veterans, Freedom, and Liberty.”