Sen. McCain to present medals at Memorial Day Ceremony in Prescott
PRESCOTT - Sen. John McCain will present seven medals to a Navajo World War II veteran who never received them as part of the Memorial Day Ceremony on Sunday at the Bob Stump Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., will feature McCain presenting medals to Ret. Army infantry rifleman Ward Farley, a procession, a wreath-laying ceremony, a gun salute to the fallen and a remembrance of veterans, as well as music and a reception at the VA Medical Center, 500 N. Highway 89, said Ame Callahan, spokeswoman for the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
"I encourage families to come to the ceremony," Callahan said. "Memorial Day is for everybody. Parents can bring their children to learn about the sacrifices veterans have made and to honor them."
The ceremony will begin with a short procession by the American Legion Ernest A. Love Post #6 Color Guard, then the Camp Verde Cavalry, Arizona Roughriders, Scottish American Military Service Color Guard, Northern Arizona All Airborne and the Young Marines Color Guard.
Brian Thomason, president of the domiciliary council at the VA Medical Center, will lead the pledge of allegiance and Doug Keller will sing the national anthem, Callahan said.
James Belmont, acting associate director of the VA Medical Center, will welcome the crowd, and John Hafer's Octet will perform a patriotic musical salute, followed by a reading by Stephanie G. Thompson, a physical therapy program assistant at the VA Medical Center, who will talk about her 18-year-old uncle who died in Okinawa during World War II and how she learned about him by reading letters he sent home to her grandmother.
Stewart Farley, Ward Farley's son, will make some brief remarks in Navajo, and John M. Chavez of the Military Order of the Purple Heart will repeat them in English, Callahan added. Then McCain will present Farley, a Navajo who served with the 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division, known as the Timberwolf Division, with seven medals.
Farley enlisted in the U.S. Army on Dec. 18, 1942, although he was 17 and spoke only Navajo. He fought in the assault on Cologne, Germany, crossing the Roer River on Feb. 23, 1945. The Timberwolves outflanked the enemy, saved many lives, and took their objective ahead of schedule.
For Farley, who was seriously wounded in the attack, it was the end of the war. Farley laid on the battlefield for two days before he was found and evacuated to England for treatment. After several months, Farley went to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for rehabilitation and eventual medical retirement on Dec. 4, 1945.
After leaving the Army, Farley returned to ranching on the Navajo reservation in southeast Utah. Although Farley's retirement papers show he was awarded seven different medals, he never physically received them.
After Farley receives his medals, women dressed in white from many local veteran service organizations will create an Aisle of Honor and present wreaths at the bronze Battlefield Cross, Callahan said.
American Legion Post #6 Honor guard and the Arizona Roughriders will perform a gun salute for the fallen, then Thomas Kolsbun and John Stevens will play Taps, and Carmelite Staker of the American Legion Auxiliary will read a benediction.
A reception will take place after the ceremony inside the Theater Building, Callahan said.