Associate Magazine-Jan/Mar 2021


N ational Academy graduates will remember the walk from our dorm rooms or from the dining hall to classrooms or the gym. That walk takes everyone through a very special part of the Academy: The Hall of Honor. Have you ever slowed down on your journey and examined the faces and names on the plaques? The circumstances that elevate a graduate to being memorialized on the wall are separate from the Memory Table tribute that is commemorated at each National Conference. The Memory Table Ceremony recognizes, honors, and holds in memory all of our fellow graduates who passed away since our last conference. It is maintained by the Association Chaplain who collects the name during the year and is a point of contact for the family. While inclusion in the Memory table is open to all graduates, there are very specific criteria which must met in order to qualify for the Hall of Honor. Unfortunately, the criteria will sometimes exclude our members who have died in very honorable and tragic ways. Here are the stories of two members for your commemoration: WILLIE MAYS TOWAI | #247 Remembering Heroes: Willie Mays Towai/Session 247 and Gary Wayne Willard/Session 188

Notification was made through the resident FBI offi- cer SA Haejun Park about the tragic circumstances listed below. Here are the details: Detective Lt. Willie Mays Towai was an outstanding officer from the Bureau of Public Safety, Republic of Palau. Willie graduated with Session 247 in the fall of 2011. He was the last police officer to attend the NA from the outer Pacific region. Accord- ing to SA Park, “In 2011 I went back to HQ for a short in-

ing vessel in Palauan waters. Willie and a junior officer, Earlee Decherong, responded via a small aircraft. Radio communication with the aircraft was lost sometime after takeoff and they were never heard from again. After an extensive search, assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, they were presumed dead and lost at sea. The people of Palau hold an annual gathering to honor Willie and Earlee. While there is no doubt he died in the line of duty, it cannot be determined whether he was killed by an adversary or through a malfunction of the helicopter. Unfortunately, because the cause of death could not be de- finitively determined to have occurred due to adversarial action, his heroic response to the threat will not qualify him for the Hall of Honor.

service and was fortunate enough to be able to have lunch with Willie in the cafeteria which he thought was top notch cuisine. Despite the cold Virginia winter not being like his warm tropi- cal island home of Palau, he had a smile on his face because he was honored to be there going through the NA. The local news station in Palau even interviewed Willie about being selected for the coveted opportunity. “ Sadly, in April 2012, not long after he had returned from his NA graduation, there was a report of an illegal Chinese fish-

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