Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, WWII Medal of Honor recipient, dead at 98

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams speaks to employees of United Bank in 2019 at the bank's headquarters. (File photo)

UPDATE: Funeral services for Williams will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at the state Culture Center in Charleston. Visitations will be conducted Saturday and before Sunday’s service in the nearby Capitol rotunda, according to the Associated Press.

CHARLESTON — Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, passed away early this morning at the Huntington VA medical center named for him.

Williams’ family and the nonprofit foundation he started to encourage the establishment of monuments honoring the survivors of those who died in military service announced the 98-year-old’s death on the foundation’s Facebook page this morning.

“Woody’s family would like to express their sincere gratitude for all of the love and support,” the post says. “They would also like to share that Woody’s wish is that people continue to carry on his mission.”

Williams received the Medal of Honor for gallantry as a U.S. Marine during the Battle of Iwo Jima where he, armed with a flame thrower, destroyed a series of enemy emplacements on Feb. 23, 1945. He was recently hospitalized and his family announced he was living out his last days.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement this morning on Williams’ death.

“I ask all West Virginians to join Cathy and I in praying for Woody, his family, friends, loved ones, and the entire military community across West Virginia and the United States of America,” he said. “Pray that, while the weight of this loss is profound, we all will be able to take solace in the fact that Woody’s contributions to our nation inspired generations, cultivated similar bravery and saved lives. 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 to our state and our nation.”

To date, Williams and his foundation are responsible for establishing 102 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States with more than 73 additional monuments underway in 50 states and one U.S. territory. The first was dedicated in the Donnel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Institute, W.Va.


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