Woody Willams dies at 98 – the Final WWII Medal of Honor recipient

[ Editor’s Note: We reach an historical WWII moment with the passing of Woody Williams,…

[ Editor’s Note: We reach an historical WWII moment with the passing of Woody Williams, the last Medal of Honor recipient from that long and horrible war. He took out a half dozen pill boxes on Iwo Jima that had been mowing down the Marines trying to break through the Japanese defense line.

Woody was actually the demolitions supply seargant, but when all of his unit’s demolition teams had been killed by noon of the third day, he found himself stepping up and having a go at doing the impossible, blowing a big hole in the Japanese line so the Marines could rush through to capture the airport and cut the island in half.

I met him by chance in Atlanta when attending a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam War recipient who had canceled at the last moment. Woody was the quick replacement. I arrived late to the luncheon event with a guest, but we had to split up, as no double seats were open.

The angels took me over to an empty seat by an old WWII guy, and yes, it was Woody. As he was in town for a weekend of events, I was able to get him to stop by my home studio to shoot his story, and then I drove him to the airport for his flight home. That magic hour remains one of the gems of the Jim Dean Journal public tv series in Atlanta.

We crossed paths again many years later after he had started his Medal of Honor Foundation with two of his grandchildren, on a quest to build Gold Star family monuments around the USA. I saw him one more time two summers ago in Detriot at one of his Gold Star monument dedication ceremonies.

We were all hoping to see him make it to 100. But he did get 103 monuments dedicated, with 72 in progress, in 50 states and 1 US territory, an incredible achievement.

He was a humble man to the end, sharing with me during our interview that his greatest honor had been to be the chaplain of the Medal of Honor Society, saying “even greater than this one” as he tapped his MoH. It was a magical moment.

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We are sad at his loss, but were honored to watch him doing about 100 in person events a year, all done to keep alive the memories of all those that never made it back to tell their stories… Jim W. Dean ]

Woody didn’t know what he was getting embellished for till he bought to the ceremony

First printed … June 29, 2022

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, a Marine Corps veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima who was the final surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World Conflict II, died June 29 at a hospital in Huntington, W.Va. He was 98.

His loss of life was introduced by the Woody Williams Basis, a nonprofit group that serves Gold Star army households, and by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The trigger was not instantly out there.

Mr. Williams, who grew up on a West Virginia dairy farm, was a 21-year-old Marine corporal when he carried out the assault on the Japanese at Iwo Jima for which he acquired the nation’s highest army award for valor.

He discovered himself on the volcanic island within the first days of the U.S. invasion that started on Feb. 19, 1945.

One of many bloodiest battles in Marine Corps historical past, Iwo Jima is seared in American reminiscence as the positioning of the flag-raising at Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. The second was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning picture by Related Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and commemorated within the Marine Corps Conflict Memorial in Arlington, Va.

Mr. Williams’s heroic actions occurred the identical day. He witnessed the flag-raising however stated he had restricted reminiscence of his personal function within the battle, which took the lives of seven,000 Marines, together with his greatest buddy. His medal quotation recounts his “unyielding dedication … within the face of ruthless enemy resistance” and a show of braveness that was “instantly instrumental in neutralizing one of the vital fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment.”

“Fast to volunteer his companies when our tanks had been maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry by way of the community of strengthened concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands,” the quotation reads, “Cpl. Williams daringly went ahead alone to try the discount of devastating machine-gun hearth from the unyielding positions.”

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Armed with a flamethrower, and beneath unremitting hearth, he was credited with destroying a collection of Japanese fortifications.

“On one event,” based on the quotation, “he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower by way of the air vent, killing the occupants, and silencing the gun; on one other he grimly charged enemy riflemen who tried to cease him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.”

Mr. Williams was introduced with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in October 1945, months after the Japanese give up that ended World Conflict II.

Mr. Williams, who attained the rank of chief warrant officer 4, later pursued a profession with what’s now the Division of Veterans Affairs and ran a horse farm.

“It’s a kind of issues that you simply put within the recess of your thoughts,” Mr. Williams instructed The Washington Publish in 2020, reflecting 75 years afterward his service at Iwo Jima. “You had been fulfilling an obligation that you simply swore to do, to defend your nation.

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, a Marine Corps veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima who was the final surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World Conflict II, died June 29 at a hospital in Huntington, W.Va. He was 98.

His loss of life was introduced by the Woody Williams Basis, a nonprofit group that serves Gold Star army households, and by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The trigger was not instantly out there.

Mr. Williams, who grew up on a West Virginia dairy farm, was a 21-year-old Marine corporal when he carried out the assault on the Japanese at Iwo Jima for which he acquired the nation’s highest army award for valor.

He discovered himself on the volcanic island within the first days of the U.S. invasion that started on Feb. 19, 1945.

One of many bloodiest battles in Marine Corps historical past, Iwo Jima is seared in American reminiscence as the positioning of the flag-raising at Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. The second was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning picture by Related Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and commemorated within the Marine Corps Conflict Memorial in Arlington, Va.

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Mr. Williams’s heroic actions occurred the identical day. He witnessed the flag-raising however stated he had restricted reminiscence of his personal function within the battle, which took the lives of seven,000 Marines, together with his greatest buddy. His medal quotation recounts his “unyielding dedication … within the face of ruthless enemy resistance” and a show of braveness that was “instantly instrumental in neutralizing one of the vital fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment.”

“Fast to volunteer his companies when our tanks had been maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry by way of the community of strengthened concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands,” the quotation reads, “Cpl. Williams daringly went ahead alone to try the discount of devastating machine-gun hearth from the unyielding positions.”

Armed with a flamethrower, and beneath unremitting hearth, he was credited with destroying a collection of Japanese fortifications.

“On one event,” based on the quotation, “he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower by way of the air vent, killing the occupants, and silencing the gun; on one other he grimly charged enemy riflemen who tried to cease him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon.”

Mr. Williams was introduced with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in October 1945, months after the Japanese give up that ended World Conflict II.

Mr. Williams, who attained the rank of chief warrant officer 4, later pursued a profession with what’s now the Division of Veterans Affairs and ran a horse farm.

“It’s a kind of issues that you simply put within the recess of your thoughts,” Mr. Williams instructed The Washington Publish in 2020, reflecting 75 years afterward his service at Iwo Jima. “You had been fulfilling an obligation that you simply swore to do, to defend your nation. Any time you’re taking a life … there’s at all times some aftermath to that for those who’ve bought any coronary heart in any respect.”