A Memorial Day celebration welcomes the community to honor those who have served in the US Armed Forces, enjoy a free-admission day at Micke Grove Regional Park and Museum, followed by a complimentary dinner on the grounds of the Historical Museum.
Captain L. Irving Williams is the keynote speaker for the Memorial Day Ceremony and Statue unveiling set for 4 p.m. on Monday, May 25 at Micke Grove Regional Park in Lodi. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a seven foot, seven inch bronze statue. A 30-foot flagpole is also being installed with flags being arranged by Senator Tom Berryhill.
In honor of Memorial Day and this ceremony, admission to the park is free throughout the day. A complimentary dinner following the ceremony on the Big Lawn at SJC’s Historical Museum is open to all attendees.
The statue is being donated by John and Gail Kautz and the Kautz Family, and is dedicated to John Kautz’s brother Fred, fellow servicemen and women both past and present, who gave their lives fighting for our country. The American Legion Post 22 of Lodi will present the colors and Commander Dan Straight will lead the 21 Gun salute. The event will include a special tribute to all of those who served in the United States Armed Forces.
Captain Williams grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. He enlisted into the Naval Aviation Cadet program in January 1964 and was commissioned as a Naval Aviator in July 1965.
His first fleet assignment was flying the A-6A Intruder onboard USS Independence. In July 1966 he volunteered for and received orders for deployment to South East Asia aboard USS Kitty Hawk. He was shot down and captured in April 1967 at Kep Airfield, North Vietnam, during his 62nd combat mission and was released from Hanoi Hilton in March 1973.
Following retraining in the A-7E Corsair II, Captain Williams made two deployments on USS Saratoga to the Mediterranean Sea; earned a B.A. degree from the University of North Florida; served as an A-7 Instructor Pilot for two years; and graduated from the Naval War College, class of 1981. This was followed by tours as Executive and Commanding Officer of an aviation squadron, Navigator of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga, and four years in the Pentagon. His final assignment was Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Alameda, CA. Combat decorations include two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts and seven Air Medals.
After leaving active duty in July 1992 and settling in Oakland, Captain Williams worked with non-profit corporations and an internet start-up company prior to fully retiring in 2001. He remains active in several non-profit organizations