This comment by Patrick James McKenna was posted the other day, and merits publication.
I can’t say how many license plates that I’ve seen, which identified the vehicle owner as an active duty servicemember, retired veteran or Purple Heart recipient.
I can, however, count the number of license plates that I’ve seen, which identified the car owner as a Medal of Honor recipient. In fact I can narrow that count from one hand to just one finger.
Back in 1998, while bicycling around NAS Jacksonville, I saw a Cadillac with a MoH plate. I caught up with the vehicle and thanks to a red light, I was able to ask the driver if he was a Medal of Honor recipient. The driver modestly replied that he was a MoH recipient. I immediately rendered a hand salute and the gentleman introduced himself as Elliot Williams.
I understand that an enlisted MoH does not officially rate a salute, but unofficially, even flag officers have been known to initiate the exchange of the hand salutes between themselves and enlisted MoH recipients.
Sometimes that salute from an officer to an enlisted MoH recipient is followed by an investigation to insure that the medal, rosette or ribbon bar is not being worn fraudulently.
Throughout my life, before, during and after the years that I’ve enjoyed the honor of serving in the world’s greatest Navy, I’ve had the privelege of meeting plenty of heroes, but only once, had the honor of meeting a living icon.
I’ve read that during the Vietnam Conflict, Elliot Williams had the distinction of recieving more decorations than any other enlisted man.
Sadly, BMC James Elliot Williams passed away the following year.
Thanks for a wonderful note, Patrick.