WESTFORD — Friends, family and supporters gathered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building for a ceremony in honor of the late Sgt. William J. Woitowicz.
The event was held in honor of Sgt. William J. Woitowicz, a Marine and Groton resident who tragically lost his life while serving in Afghanistan.
Over a decade after his passing, the American Legion Riders presented two Purple Heart plaques to the parents of Woitowicz.
“It’s important because at some point, the [parents] begin to feel as if they’re alone,” Vice President of the American Legion Riders Chapter 273 Joe “Bird Man” Leaston told WestfordCAT. “Doing events like these and seeing that there are organizations like these, people see that they are not alone.”
He continued, “It’s food for the soul. I didn’t serve with him, but he will forever be my brother.”
Riders hope to dispel misconceptions about their organization and their work. The national organization has raised millions for local, state and national charities.
“As soon as people see us on motorcycles, they think we’re a club. We’re not a club,” American Legion Riders Chapter 273 President Paul “Ghost Rider” Lewis told WestfordCAT. “When they see us on a motorcycle, we’re on a quest to raise money for a veteran or veteran organization.”
He continued, “doing this here, it helps me deal with my demons of Vietnam. For every veteran and community help, it makes us feel better.”
The family of Sgt. William J. Woitowicz says they are grateful for the community support.
“The most important thing for me is seeing Bill’s name not forgotten,” Kevin Woitowicz, William’s father, told WestfordCAT. “Whenever I’m approached by someone who wants to honor his memory, it’s a big deal for me. It brings home that people do remember and people do see his name and see what he did.”
Woitowicz’s personal decorations include a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, a Combat Action Ribbon and a Good Conduct Medal.