We say goodbye to the last Medal Of Honor winner from WWII
Bio / Words from his foundation, photos by: Karen Zook
Hershel “Woody” Williams was born on a dairy farm in 1923 in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. During the battle, Mr. Williams displayed “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self as he “enabled his company to reach its objective”. Mr. Williams’ actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism were recognized on October 5, 1945, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House. Mr. Williams is the sole surviving Marine from WWII, to wear the Medal of Honor.
Mr. Williams’ devotion to duty, service members, veterans and their families began long before that battle and before he entered the Corps. As World War II began, Woody came into direct contact with families in his own community when he delivered Western Union telegrams informing the Gold Star families of the death of their loved one. Woody says that those experiences gave him a “greater appreciation for life and an understanding of a difference in death in the normal world as expected in life, and those lost serving in the military for their country”. He noted that “consideration and recognition of the families of those lost in military service was very inadequate.” This observation and his personal commitment to veterans and their families brought about the creation of the Woody Williams Foundation. The activities of this foundation allow Mr. Williams to continue his devotion and commitment to those who have served and the Gold Star families who have lost Loved Ones to that service above self.
To date, Woody and his foundation are responsible for establishing 104 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States with more than 69 additional monuments underway in 50 states and 1 U.S. Territory. The Foundation continues to grow its reach by being involved in multiple initiatives across the country.
Mr. Williams began his military career with a commitment to country, service members, veterans and families. He continues that commitment through his active engagement with local communities in recognizing and commemorating the service and devotion to duty of our service men and women.