Tribute to a Generation

Tribute to a Generation

Haydn Williams and the Building of the World War II Memorial

David F. Winkler


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Tribute to a Generation highlights the unappreciated yet pivotal role Ambassador F. Haydn Williams played in making the World War II Memorial in Washington what it is today. As a naval officer sent into Japan to repatriate Maj. Pappy Boyington and other POWs at the end of World War II, Williams became a rising star in the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. He worked on behalf of the CIA to start a trans-Pacific think-tank, transforming it to a non-profit leader in Asian affairs, and served as an ambassador appointed to negotiate the status of Micronesia. Williams saw the recognition of the Greatest Generation as a final mission in life and leaned on a good friend, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Bill Crowe, to get an appointment to the American Battle Monuments Commission. Diplomat and taskmaster, Williams assembled a talented small group to select the site, complete the design, and work with award-winning architect Friedrich St. Florian and sculptor Ray Kaskey with the aid of such luminaries as Senator Bob Dole, FedEx Chair Fred Smith and actor Tom Hanks to overcome strong opposition to completing the memorial. ​