RODNEY WILLIAMS, JR MEMORIAL AWARD
Presented annually at the Officer Selection Officer (OSO) Colonel William "Rich" Higgins Memorial Mess Night/Dining-In to an individual selected by the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Kentucky (MCCCK) Board of Directors, who has demonstrated exemplary community leadership and commitment, with a long history of dedicated service to Marine Corps related activities within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Like the individual whose memory this award honors, the recipient thereof need not have any Marine Corps affiliation. For over 30 years, Rodney Williams, Jr., through his long time employment with the University of Louisville, ultimately serving as its Alumni Director, provided logistical, administrative and moral support to Marine Corps officer recruiting efforts, forging a lasting friendship with the late Colonel Rich Higgins, USMC, who in 1971 served as OSO, University of Louisville. Rodney Williams, Jr. was self-sacrificing and devoted to the young people of our armed forces, without an agenda or expectation of remuneration or recognition. Perhaps it was his way of serving his country.
Through his relationship with Colonel Rich Higgins, who in February 1988 was abducted, and later tortured and murdered by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, he came to know and love the Marine Corps. Through the years, Rodney Williams, Jr. developed a passion for the OSO Mess Night, which was established by Colonel Rich Higgins in part to honor his Miami of Ohio University roommate 2nd Lt Terry Graves, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War. Without the dedicated support provided by Rodney Williams, Jr., this wonderful annual evening celebrating Marine Corps customs and time honored traditions, may have come to pass with the eventual reassignment of Colonel Rich Higgins. Recognizing and admiring the unique and passionate bond of friendship and respect which existed between Colonel Rich Higgins and 2nd Lt Terry Graves, his former college roommate and fellow Marine Corps officer, Rodney Williams, Jr. labored to ensure the OSO Mess Night would endure through the years as a testimony to the requisite skills of leadership, which he hoped to reinforce or instill in youth. During the ensuing years, as various OSOs were assigned to the University of Louisville, it was Rodney Williams, Jr. who provided the impetus for the annual OSO Mess Night. Throughout his life, Rodney Williams, Jr. was a devoted supporter of youth and through his vision, he recognized that the military and specifically the Marine Corps officer programs provided an outstanding opportunity for youth to develop those values essential to patriotism, honor, and duty. Never a Marine himself, Rodney Williams, Jr. provided outstanding service to the local Marine Corps community and was formally recognized by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for such when he was designated an "Honorary Marine" in 2001.
Rodney Williams, Jr. passed away in 2003 and the MCCCK elected to honor his memory with the institution of this award and the annual recognition of individuals who exemplify his spirit, enthusiasm, and dedication in support of the Marine Corps in Kentucky. In recognition and appreciation for all that Rodney Williams, Jr. did for the United States Marine Corps during his long tenure at the University of Louisville, a beautiful handcrafted cherry wood Colonial Williamsburg reproduction upholstered chair used during the Colonel "Rich" Higgins Memorial Mess Night/Dining-In (2003-2009) was presented in 2009 to the University of Louisville Alumni Association for permanent retention in its Board of Directors conference room.
Each year, at the Annual Colonel "Rich" Higgins Memorial Mess Night/Dining-In, the recipient of the "Rodney Williams, Jr. Memorial Award" is formally announced and presented with a small wood plaque, bearing the Marine Corps emblem (Eagle Globe and Anchor) and an appropriately engraved brass plate, attesting to his or her dedication, service and commitment to the Marine Corps community in Kentucky.
Criteria for nominations should focus on an assessment of demonstrated leadership, commitment, and a history of dedicated support of the Marine Corps community within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to include active duty, reserve and veteran components, as well as individual Marines in need. Affiliation with the Marine Corps, either current or past, need not be a requirement for nomination, inasmuch as the individual whose memory this award honors, was never a Marine himself, but provided so many years of dedicated service and committed support to the Marine Corps mission in our community.
Nominations should be submitted by documented letter addressed to MCCCK, Post Office Box 355, Prospect, Kentucky 40059 or by documented e-mail addressed to KentuckyMarines@aol.com, when called upon annually. Selection will be made by the MCCCK Board of Directors, with input from the duly appointed MCCCK officers.
RECIPIENTS OF THE RODNEY WILLIAMS MEMORIAL AWARD
2016 - David J. Breen
(Major, USMC 1979-1993; Strategic Account Director, Level (3) Communications, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky)
2015 - Frederick J. Seitz
(Captain, USMC 1969-1974; Owner, Brookdale Farm, Versailles, Kentucky)
2014 - Ronald D. Ray
(Colonel, USMCR 1964-1994; Attorney-at-Law, Crestwood, Kentucky)
2013 - Robert V. Evans, Jr.
(Colonel, USMCR 1958-1984; Financial Advisor, National City Bank (Retired), Frankfort, Kentucky)
2012 - Robert D. Zielke
(Staff Sergeant, USMC 1963-1969; Commercial Real Estate Developer and Broker, Bob Zielke & Associates, Lexington, Kentucky)
2011 - Charles H. Stallard
(Corporal, USMC 1965-1969; President, Montford Point Marine Association, Louisville Chapter; United States Postal Service (Retired), Louisville, Kentucky)
2010 - Stanley H. Jones
(Sergeant, USMC 1954 - 1957; Vice President, Keeneland Association, Inc. (Retired), Nicholasville, Kentucky)
2009 - Mary K. Broussard
(Lieutenant Colonel, USMCR 1972 - 2004; Administrator, City of Louisville (Retired), Louisville, Kentucky)
2008 - Allen D. Broussard
(Major, USMC 1964 - 1985; Senior Marine Instructor, Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Fern Creek Traditional High School (Retired), Louisville, Kentucky)
2007 - Edmund V. Armento
(Captain, USMC 1965-1968; Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation (Retired), Prospect, Kentucky)
2006 - Martin G. Hanse, Sr.
(Corporal, USMC 1959-1963; Vice President, United Parcel Service (Retired), Louisville, Kentucky)
2005 - Russell B. Scott, Jr.
(Corporal, USMC 1962-1968; President and Chief Executive Officer USA Operations, Hydrogen Technologies International, Clearwater, Florida)
2004 - Kenneth F. Herrington III
(Colonel, USMCR, 1971-2001; First Vice President-Investments, UBS Financial Services, Louisville, Kentucky)
2003 - Clifford D. Shulman
(First Lieutenant, USMC, 1973-1977; Production Manager, Ford Motor Company, Louisville, Kentucky)