Hershel “Woody” Williams was the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient. He was 98-years-old when he passed away recently. The American hero will lie in state at the United States Capitol. The news comes from Williams’s home state senator Joe Manchin. Williams was a native of Huntington, West Virginia.
Hershel Williams earned the Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Battle of Iwo Jima. President Harry Truman presented Williams the award in 1945.
Manchin praised Williams for his contributions to his home.
“He never quit giving back,” Manchin said at the memorial service. Through his foundation, Williams raised money for gold star families with an annual motorcycle ride. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“It’s not going to be stopping,” Manchin joked. “Because Woody would come after me in a heartbeat.”
Manchin and Hershel Williams often spoke on the phone.
“I’ll miss him telling me how I’m supposed to vote,” Manchin said. “And when I didn’t, how I made a mistake.”
Williams was remembered by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a statement at the time of his death.
“Today, America lost not just a valiant Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, but an important link to our Nation’s fight against tyranny in the Second World War,” Austin said. “I hope every American will pause to reflect on his service and that of an entire generation that sacrificed so much to defend the cause of freedom and democracy.”
The Legacy of Hershel Williams
Hershel Williams served the Marines for 20 more years after the events at Iwo Jima. He then worked at the Veterans Administration for 33 more. He was a veterans service representative.
Williams was honored alongside 14 other Medal of Honor recipients before the 2018 Super Bowl. His home state governor reflected on a native hero.
“Woody Williams will go down in history as one of the greatest West Virginians who ever lived and we salute him for everything he gave our state and our nation,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.
The work that Williams began with his foundation will continue. The mission of the Woody Williams Foundation is to “honor, recognize and serve Gold Star Families and the legacy of their Loved Ones.” Their work includes awarding scholarships to Gold Star Children.
Another project that the foundation works on is the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. The original idea of the statue was to place it in West Virginia. Soon after succeeding, Woody and the organization pushed forward with an effort to place monuments honoring Gold Star Families in all 50 states.
Learn more about The Woody Williams Foundation and about how you can donate to continue his legacy at the organization’s website.