PHOTO: When Youngest U.S. Marine to Receive Medal of Honor Met Oldest U.S. Marine to Receive It

by Chris Haney

Back in 2018, the youngest and oldest U.S. Marines to receive the Medal of Honor for their harrowing acts of bravery came together and met for the first time.

In September of that year, 94-year-old Hershel “Woody” Williams and Kyle Carpenter got to spend some time together. The pair both attended a Medal of Honor convention where their paths finally crossed. Williams is the oldest living recipient of the prestigious award, and still going strong today at 97 years old. Carpenter, now 31, became the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor in 2014 when he received it at just 24 years old.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded to the men and women of our Armed Forces. It recognizes those that have distinguished themselves with extraordinary acts of valor. The medal is typically presented to the honoree by the President of the United States of America. President Barack Obama awarded Carpenter with the award in 2014. In addition, President Harry S. Truman presented the medal to Williams in 1945.

Fast forward to 69 years later and Williams got a chance to meet Carpenter on that special September day. However, according to a post after they met, the pleasure was all Carpenter’s.

“Beyond humbled and honored by this moment. Hershel “Woody” Williams is the oldest living Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient. He charged the beaches of Iwo Jima during WW2. As the youngest living recipient I can only hope to one day live up to his legacy. #MOHConvention,” Carpenter wrote on Twitter.

The Actions Which Led to Each of Their Medal of Honor Awards

Hershel “Woody” Williams received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in World War II at the Battle of Iwo Jima. On February 23, 1945, the demolition sergeant charged multiple times unaccompanied at concrete pillboxes. The dug-in Japanese guard posts behind enemy lines held firing machines guns, which Williams single-handedly neutralized. He went from one to another with explosive charges and a flamethrower, taking out each enemy position.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Williams took out seven pillboxes in a four-hour span. In addition, the demolition sergeant only had four riflemen covering him. The article says that during one of his attacks, he climbed onto one of the pillboxes. From there, Williams put the nozzle of his flamethrower into the air vent pipe and fired. He wiped out the machine gun and killed everyone inside.

Kyle Carpenter’s heroic story is just as inspiring. He earned his Medal of Honor in Afghanistan during the Battle of Marjah. On November 21, 2010, Carpenter and a fellow Marine were guarding a rooftop position on the Patrol Base Dakota. The enemy attacked their base in daylight with hand grenades. One of the grenades landed inside their sandbagged security position on the perimeter of the base, according to a Freedom Foundations report.

The young Marine threw himself towards the enemy grenade to save the life of his fellow soldier. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved towards the grenade as it exploded. His body took most of the blast, which severely wounded Carpenter, but saved the life of the other Marine.

The Medal of Honor recipient almost died from the grenade shrapnel. He sustained severe wounds to his body and face. Carpenter also lost his right eye and numerous teeth, but he thankfully survived his act of valor.