Story by Capt. Brian Hare
GRANITEVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA – Consistent with the tradition of honoring American veterans and showing appreciation for their service and sacrifice, the South Carolina National Guard honored its oldest living retiree during a special recognition ceremony at the Graniteville Armory Nov. 4, 2016.
William Zimmerman, joined by friends and family members, was recognized by U.S. Army Soldiers from the South Carolina Army National Guard’s 122nd Engineer Battalion, along with leadership representatives from the South Carolina National Guard, during the ceremony. The 122nd is the same unit Zimmerman served with and retired from in 1979.
During the event, Zimmerman and guests listened to remarks from South Carolina National Guard representatives as he was honored with several gifts in recognition of his service, including a U.S. Flag flown over the U.S. Capital provided by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, a U.S. Flag flown over the S.C. state house provided by S.C. Rep. Robert Williams, and a certificate of appreciation signed by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., Adjutant General for S.C., and presented by U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kent B. Puffenbarger, South Carolina Army National Guard command chief warrant officer.
“This is a great honor,” said Zimmerman. “I love this country, I love this state, and I love this town, and anytime I can do something for them or have something done to help them, I’m going to do it.”
Zimmerman also received gifts from the Soldiers of the 122nd Engineer Battalion for his many years of service as a member of their unit.
“I just want to thank you,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Hyman, 122nd Engineer Battalion commander. “Because of you, and the many Soldiers and service members like you, you provided the country that we live in today.”
In a career spanning more than 34 years, Zimmerman initially entered active-duty in September 1942. During World War II he served in three different campaigns, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, the India-Burma Campaign, and the American Campaign. Zimmerman’s World War II service included participating in overseas operations in China, Burma, and India in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.
After leaving active-duty service in 1946, Zimmerman joined the South Carolina National Guard in 1947.
Zimmerman received a number of awards and decorations during his many years of service, which included the Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation, Active State Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal.
A recently conducted South Carolina National Guard records search determined that Zimmerman is its oldest living retiree at age 97. He was awarded the Guardsman’s Retirement Medal upon his retirement in 1979 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60.