The last remaining World War II Medal of Honor recipient and a true American hero, Hershel “Woody” Williams died Wednesday at the age of 98, as the Daily Wire reports.
A statement released by the charitable and veterans services foundation that bears his name, Williams passed away in Huntington, West Virginia, at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital that was also named after him.
“Woody peacefully joined his beloved wife Ruby while surrounded by his family,” the statement explained, adding, “Woody’s family would like to express their sincere gratitude for all the love and support,” as the Marine Corps Times noted.
Raised in Quiet Dell, a rural community in Marion County, West Virginia, Willaims joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and ultimately distinguished himself by exhibiting “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” during the Battle of Iwo Jima and was presented with the Medal of Honor by former President Harry S. Truman in October of 1945, according to The Hill.
Williams, working as a demolition sergeant at the time, landed on Iwo Jima with the 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division on Feb, 21, 1945, and days later, he used flamethrowers to destroy enemy armament installations, even proceeding into oncoming machine-gun attacks alone, with only four riflemen providing cover.
After the war, Williams notched two decades of service in the Corps and the reserves combined, and he worked within the VA for 33 years, serving as a veterans service representative and also as the Commandant for the Veterans Nursing home in Barboursville, West Virginia.
Other honors bestowed upon Williams included that of Distinguished West Virginian in both 1980 and 2013, as well as his induction into the West Virginia Hall of Fame. In 2018, the VA healthcare facility in Huntington was named the Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center, and in 2020, the naval warship the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams was commissioned in Norfolk, Virginia.
With a particular devotion to military families that have lost a member in service of the country, Williams founded the Woody Williams Foundation, through which over 100 Gold Star Families memorial monuments have been erected nationwide, with another 72 currently in progress.
Though preceded in death by his wife in 2007, Williams leaves behind two daughters as well as millions of grateful Americans must never be allowed to forget the sacrifices and valor of the Greatest Generation.