500 Festival Memorial Service presented by Rolls-Royce

55. E. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46204


Honor our fallen heroes.

The month of May in Indianapolis is a celebration of the world’s largest single-day sporting event – the Indianapolis 500. Beyond that, the 500 Festival also embraces a very important holiday in the midst of its festivities – Memorial Day and a weekend to remember the sacrifices made by Indiana men and women who perished while serving in the armed forces.

General Michael X. Garrett, Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, and Medal of Honor Recipient, WWII Veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams will speak.

General Michael X. Garrett assumed duties as the 23rd Commander of United States Army Forces Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in March 2019. As Commander of the United States Army’s largest organization, he commands 215,000 active duty Soldiers, and provides training and readiness oversight of U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. In total, the Forces Command team includes 745,000 Soldiers and 96,000 Civilians.

General Garrett has commanded at every level from Company through Army Service Component Command, and led units in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A career Infantryman, General Garrett received his commission in 1984 upon graduating from Xavier University. Following his initial military training courses, including Ranger, Pathfinder, and Jumpmaster, he served his formative years in the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 82nd Airborne Division, where he commanded 3rd Battalion 325th Infantry (Airborne), 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also commanded 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (Light), which he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following Brigade Command, General Garrett served as the Deputy Commanding General of United States Army Recruiting Command, and subsequently, as Chief of Staff, XVIII Airborne Corps. In support of Operation New Dawn, he deployed to Iraq as the Deputy Chief of Staff for United States Forces-Iraq. Returning stateside, he served as Commanding General, United States Army Alaska, before assuming duty as Chief of Staff, United States Central Command. His most recent assignment was as Commanding General, United States Army Central (USARCENT) and Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC).

Hershel “Woody” Williams is the sole surviving Marine from WWII to wear the Medal of Honor. Williams enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943, serving during several battles in World War II. The last battle he served in was the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. During the battle, Williams displayed “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self as he “enabled his company to reach its objective.” Mr. Williams’ actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism were recognized on October 5, 1945, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House.

Mr. Williams’ devotion to duty, service members, veterans and their families began long before that battle and before he entered the Corps. As World War II began, Woody came into direct contact with families in his own community when he delivered Western Union telegrams informing the Gold Star families of the death of their loved one. Woody says that those experiences gave him a “greater appreciation for life and an understanding of a difference in death in the normal world as expected in life, and those lost serving in the military for their country."

Williams’ commitment to veterans and their families led him to establish the Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, Inc. was established in 2012 and is a charitable 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that pursues specific endeavors and goals through the vision of Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams. The Foundation encourages, with the assistance of the American public and community leaders, establishing permanent Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in communities throughout the country and provides scholarships to eligible Gold Star Children. Its purpose is to honor Gold Star Families, relatives, and Gold Star Children who have sacrificed a loved one in the service of their country.

Also in attendance will be the Adjutant General, Indiana, Major General Courtney P. Carr of the National Guard Bureau. Leader of the Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve and State employees, General Carr directs those units in support of state and federal missions. Upon three decades of varied military service, abroad and in the United States, his climb in the ranks has commissioned him to oversee 15,800 personnel and their functions.

The Memorial Service will also include the Military Department of Indiana’s Joint Service Color Guard posting of the colors and performances by the Capital City Chorus and the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band. A wreath-laying ceremony and a horse-drawn caisson will be presented by the Indiana National Guard Headquarters Ceremonial Unit. The caisson carries the remains of the fallen service member, while the caparisoned horse trails behind.

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