WEST VIRGINIA (WOWK) – This summer, West Virginia and the nation said goodbye to the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woody” Williams. The Quiet Dell, West Virginia Native died June 29, 2022, at 98-years-old.
On July 14, 2022, Woody became just the seventh American to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. A congressional tribute took place there along with a wreath laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Woody also had a similar honor at the West Virginia State Capitol leading up to his funeral where thousands of people came by to pay their respects to the late hero in Charleston. The service was open to the public, and field with tears, a few laughs and stories of a man who dedicated his life to serving the nation.
Woody had a private burial at the Donel C. Kinnard State Veterans Cemetery in Kanawha County.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams joined the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. Williams received the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945, from President Harry S. Truman for his “actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism,” the Woody Williams Foundation website says.
He was known for being a kind-hearted man, short in stature but big in bravery, who never made anything about himself and lived by his motto:
“The cause is greater than I.”Woody Williams
A man who not only defied death at Iwo Jima, but returned to be honored for going above and beyond, never forgetting those who were equally as brave by his side but not as fortunate to make it home.
Woody was just always there to remind us all what was important, what was good. From being at schools to the side of someone in need, someone who needed to be held accountable, someone who needed a friend, Woody was there for his community.
Just as the self-described farm boy from West Virginia did a world away in an iconic battle that would shape history.
Woody had a few last wishes and they are actually being carried out right now: He wanted a fellow horse lover, Wayne Newton, to receive his challenge coins, and his friend Kim Wolfe is delivering those to him in Las Vegas next week. Next, he wanted a Gold Star Families Monument in Huntington, and fundraising began for that in October 2022.
Woody will also be honored at the WVU vs. Oklahoma game in Morgantown on Saturday, Nov. 12 during the coin toss. A special video will be played and there will be a moment of silence for Woody before a singing of “Country Roads” in his honor.