Left to right: Herschel “Woody” Williams, Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, former Senator Bob Kerrey, Eddie Ray & Zach Iscol.

Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps, WWII)


Medal of Honor Recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps) as one of its Grand Marshals for the 2019 New York City Veterans Day Parade.  

He joins Grand Marshals Hiroshi “Hershey”Miyamura (U.S. Army, Korea), Former Senator Bob Kerrey (U.S. Navy, Vietnam) Eddie Ray (U.S. Marine Corps, Desert Storm) and Zach Iscol (U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq & Post-9/11).

A native of West Virginia, Williams was selected as a Grand Marshal for his distinguished military service and his lifetime commitment to the veterans community and to our nation.

Williams first confronted the cost of war during the early years of World War II, when he delivered telegrams informing families of the death of their loved one. Eager to do his part for his nation, he volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943.

Williams was a 21-year old Marine corporal on February 23, 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, when he went forward alone, ahead of his unit, and eliminated a series of well-entrenched enemy machine gun positions.

For these actions, he received the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor.

Williams stayed in the military following the war, serving for 20 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps reserve.  For 33 years, he worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a Veterans Service Representative, helping thousands of fellow veterans obtain their benefits.

He has been a lifelong advocate for veterans in his home state and across America.

Today, his Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is working to establish Gold Star Family memorials in every state in the country, honoring those who have lost a loved one in the service of our nation.

“Woody was not only a hero on the battlefield, but he has continued to serve our veterans and our country throughout his life,” said UWVC Executive Director Mark Otto, also a former Marine.  “And although Woody comes from small town America, his story and personality are truly larger than life, and a great fit for the streets of New York City.”

Williams himself reflected, “Seventy-four years ago, the significance of that first day of peace meant that the fighting was over and that there would be no more casualties. Those of us preparing for further combat experienced a great feeling of relief and achievement.  I’m proud to come to New York to represent all those Americans who helped win World War II – and especially those who never had the chance to experience the priceless gift of coming home to their loved ones.”

Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura (U.S. Army, Korean War)

U.S. Army veteran Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura to represent veterans of the Korean War at America’s premier salute to service

Medal of Honor Recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura (U.S. Army), Grand Marshal for the 2019 New York City Veterans Day Parade who’s service represents the Korean War era.  

He joins Grand Marshals Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps, WWII), Former Senator Bob Kerrey (U.S. Navy, Vietnam) Eddie Ray (U.S. Marine Corps, Desert Storm) and Zach Iscol (U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq & Post-9/11).

Miyamura was born and raised in Gallup, New Mexico, to Japanese-American immigrant parents.  He was given the nickname “Hershey” by a teacher who had trouble pronouncing his given name, Hiroshi.  

He served briefly with the famed Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team during the last months of World War II, but was discharged after the war ended.  He later joined the U.S. Army reserve.

When the Korean War began in the summer of 1950, Miyamura was called into active duty, and was deployed to Korea as a corporal.  

On the night of April 24 – 25th, 1951, his unit’s position was assaulted by a vastly superior Chinese force.  Although wounded and bleeding badly, Miyamura single-handedly held off the attacking force so that the rest of his men could retreat safely, before he lost consciousness and was captured by the enemy.  

During Miyamura’s time in captivity, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions — a fact that was classified “Top Secret” to protect him from reprisals.  

He was released on August 20, 1953, and received the Medal of Honor from President Dwight Eisenhower in October, 1953. 

After his discharge from the Army, Miyamura returned to Gallup, New Mexico, where he still resides today.  He has been a lifelong supporter of his fellow veterans, and remains active in his community, particularly with local youth.

“Through his life story and his service to America, Hershey Miyamura truly embodies the spirit and values that define our great nation,” said UWVC Executive Director Mark Otto.  “We’re honored that he will be joining us in November, and we look forward to seeing him help lead the way up Fifth Avenue!”

“I’ve tried to live my life by the words, ‘Always Believe in Yourself, God and Country’” said Miyamura.  “I’m proud to join so many veterans who epitomize this philosophy, and to be a part of Veterans Day in New York City.”

Former Senator Bob Kerrey (U.S. Navy, Vietnam War)

U.S. Navy SEAL Vietnam Veteran & Medal of Honor Recipient, Former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey represents the Vietnam era.

Senator Bob Kerrey, who served as a U.S. Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War, is one of this year’s five Grand Marshals, who each represent an era of service from World War II to the present day.

He joins Grand Marshals Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps, World War II), Hiroshi “Hershey”Miyamura (U.S. Army, Korea), Eddie Ray (U.S. Marine Corps, Desert Storm) and Zach Iscol (U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq & Post-9/11).

Mr. Kerrey was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1943. He served in the United States Navy as an elite SEAL officer during the Vietnam War. On March 14, 1969, Kerry was seriously wounded while in command of a SEAL Team during amission on an island in the bay of NhaTrang. Despite these injuries, which would result in lifelong disabilities, he continued to lead his men until he was eventually evacuated by helicopter. For his actions, he received the Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in May, 1970.

After completing his military service, Mr. Kerrey ran several successful businesses before returning to public service. He served one term as Governor of Nebraska, from 1983 to 1987, and then served as a U.S. Senator for Nebraska from 1989 to 2001. From 2001 to 2011, Mr. Kerrey was President of The New School in New York City. He has also served on the 9/11 Commission, on the advisory board of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association, as co-chair of the Concord Coalition, and on the Natural Resources Defense Council. He is currently Managing Director at Allen & Company, and Executive Chairman of the Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarship. Mr. Kerrey resides in New York City with his wife, Sarah Paley.

“Through his personal story and lifetime of service, Senator Kerrey offers us all a true example of perseverance and commitment to our nation” said UWVC Executive Director Mark Otto. “We are proud that he will be joining us and representing our Vietnam veterans at this year’s Centennial Veterans Day Parade.”

Senator Kerrey said, “I hope this parade will be a time to celebrate and express our gratitude for the sacrifice and risks run by the men and women who served in our military.”

Eddie Ray (U.S. Marine Corps, Desert Storm)


Mr. Eddie Ray received the Navy Cross for actions during Operation Desert Storm (1991), and represents that era amongst this year’s five Grand Marshals (representing service from World War II to the present day).  

As one of Grand Marshals,  he joins Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps, World War II), Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura (U.S. Army, Korea), Former Senator Bob Kerrey (Navy, Vietnam) and Zach Iscol (Marine Corps, Post-9/11).  

Born in Southern Los Angeles, Ray joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1977.  He earned his bachelor’s degree while serving as enlisted artilleryman, and joined the reserves as an officer. 

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Ray led his Light Infantry Vehicle company overseas, joining the international coalition defending Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. 

On February 24, 1991 Allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait.  One day into the operation, then-Captain Ray received word that his division’s command post was threatened by a large force of Iraqi armored vehicles.  

Ray ordered his vastly-outnumbered force to charge the oncoming Iraqi brigade.  At the end of the battle, Ray’s unit had captured more than 250 enemy soldiers and destroyed over fifty enemy vehicles.  His leadership and courage earned him the Navy Cross, one of only two awarded during that war.

Ray continued his career in the Marines, with numerous commands and several overseas deployments, including the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.  

He retired in 2008 with the rank of Colonel.  Since his retirement, Ray has been active in the veterans community, including serving as a co-founder and emeritus board member of Veterans and Athletes United, an organization dedicated to empowering and serving veterans and their families.

“Colonel Ray is an unsung hero from an often-overlooked generation of service,” said UWVC Executive Director, himself a Marine veteran of Desert Storm.  “We are extraordinarily proud to spotlight his story at this year’s Centennial Veterans Day Parade”

“I am humbled to be selected as a grand marshal for the New York City Veterans Day parade,” said Colonel Ray, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent the unselfish and heroic marines I had the privilege and honor to serve with”.  

Zach Iscol (U.S. Navy, Post-9/11)

Mr. Zach Iscol, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, turned Veteran-focused Entrepreneur represents the Post-9/11 era for the 2019 Centennial Veterans Day Parade.

Mr. Zach Iscol, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq as an infantry officer represents the Post-9/11 era of this year’s five Grand Marshals, who each represent an era of service from World War II to present day.  

He joins previously announced Grand Marshals Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura (U.S. Army, Korea), Eddie Ray (U.S. Marine Corps, Desert Storm) and Herschel “Woody” Williams (U.S. Marine Corps, World War II).

The Parade will take place on New York City’s iconic Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan, on November 11, 2019.  

Born in Pound Ridge, New York, Iscol was commissioned on August 11th, 2001 as a U.S. Marine Corps officer following his graduation from Cornell University.  His wartime service began just one month later, following the 9/11 attacks on New York City.  

Iscol served two tours in Iraq as an infantry officer and fought in the second battle of Fallujah, considered to be the heaviest urban combat involving U.S. troops since the battle for Hué City during the Vietnam War.  He also served in the Marine Corps’ Special Operations Command, with assignments throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Since leaving the military, Iscol has founded three different organizations dedicated to serving and giving voice to veterans: Headstrong, a non-profit healthcare company partnered with Weill Cornell Medical Center that builds and manages networks of world-class mental healthcare providers in 25 cities around the United States to provide effective, cost and bureaucracy free mental healthcare to veterans suffering from PTSD, MST, and other hidden wounds; Hirepurpose, which helps companies build talent acquisition pipelines to hire military experienced talent; and Task and Purpose, a military and veteran-focused digital media platform that reaches millions of readers each month.  He is also active as an advocate and supporter of a wide range of other veterans causes.

“Through his military service, and through his tireless commitment to those who have served, Zach has dedicated his life to our nation and to our veterans community,” said UWVC Executive Director, Mark Otto.  “We are proud for him to represent not only our post-9/11 generation of veterans, but all those who actively continue to serve, even after hanging up their uniform.”

“I’m incredibly honored to get to walk alongside living legends on Veterans Day and humbled to represent another great generation of American veterans, who have returned home from war to continue their service in their communities. Thank you to the UWVC for caring for our community, keeping our stories alive, and bridging the civil-military divide,” said Zach Iscol, “our teams at Headstrong, Hirepurpose, and Task & Purpose are lucky to partner with you.” 

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