Haven Hospice honors local veteran William Wiggins

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 3/30/22

ORANGE PARK – Family and friends gathered Saturday to honor William Wiggins with a veteran’s recognition ceremony.

Wiggins is a Haven Hospice patient and veteran of the U.S. Army and Marines …

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Haven Hospice honors local veteran William Wiggins

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Family and friends gathered Saturday to honor William Wiggins with a veteran’s recognition ceremony.

Wiggins is a Haven Hospice patient and veteran of the U.S. Army and Marines Corp. A decades-long career saw him stationed in Germany and he also spent time as a military drum major.

He said thousands of other service members contributed to the war effort. Prior to the Korean War, he enlisted in the Marines and almost processed his papers before the Army drafted him. He was 18.

“They tried to get me out of the Army and back in the Marine Corp because my papers were in, but it was too late, I was in the Army.”

Wiggins is a Jacksonville native. Wiggins said he was grateful for the ceremony and had his uniform laid out for weeks.

“I feel great,” Wiggins said. “All my friends are here.”

Haven Hospice veteran volunteers Robin McKenzie and Greg Duffy facilitated the ceremony, which was held at Tom and Betty’s Restaurant.

McKenzie, a retired U.S. Navy Nurse Corp captain, called Wiggins a wonderful gentleman. McKenzie said the event is usually held at a home or nursing home, but a restaurant was a good fit. She gave Wiggins a flag, card, a pin and a quilt.

“We go wherever the client is,” she said.

McKenzie said Wiggins helped secure the country during a critical time. She said Wiggins was devoted to duty and had a spirit of sacrifice.

“We salute you,” she said as Wiggins was helped from his wheelchair to stand and salute.

Duffy, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, read the poem “The Watch.” It showcases the sailor steadfastly standing the watch and safeguarding the nation’s freedoms while documenting events happening around him. It ends with the soldier relieved from the watch.

“In those years when the storm clouds of war were seen brewing on the horizon of history, William stood the watch,” Duffy said.

“Many times, he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there needing his guidance and help. Needing that hand to hold during those hard times, but still he stood the watch.”

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