Honoring the Memory of Hershel “Woody” Williams, the Last Medal of Honor Recipient of the Second World War


The Veteran Community and The Nation have lost a true hero, marking a grim milestone as the last WWII Medal of Honor recipient passes away.

A Statement from the Woody Williams Foundation reads:

Yesterday at 3:15 a.m., Hershel Woodrow Williams, affectionately known by many as Woody, went home to be with the Lord. Woody peacefully joined his beloved wife Ruby while surrounded by his family at the VA Medical Center, which bears his name.

Details about the funeral and memorial services will be shared as that information becomes available.

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

All correspondence and condolences may be sent to the Woody Williams Foundation via email at contact@woodywilliams.org or via mail at:

Woody Williams Foundation
12123 Shelbyville Rd. Suite 100
Louisville, KY 40243

Honor-Recognize-Serve,

-The Woody Williams Family and Foundation

His passing is personal to TeamVetCV and our hometown of Pensacola, FL. Back in 2020, Hershel Williams attended the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument dedication ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park Pensacola, of which VetCV CEO Niels Andersen is a foundation board member. Members of the Veterans Memorial Park of Pensacola Foundation Board and the Veteran Community of Northwest Florida are grateful to have met a warfighter with such a noble and generous spirit as Hershel “Woody” Williams.

Hershel "Woody" Williams at an event held at Pensacola Veterans Memorial Park in 2020
Hershel “Woody” Williams at Veterans Memorial Park Pensacola in 2020

Williams joined the U.S. Marine Corps in May 1943 and was present at Guadalcanal, Guam, and Iwo Jima with 1st Battalion, 21st Marines, 3rd Mar Div. For his actions on the fourth day of the Battle of Iwo Jima, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

His Citation reads as follows:

The Congressional Medal of Honor

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, 23 February 1945. Quick to volunteer his services when our tanks were maneuvering vainly to open a lane for the infantry through the network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines and black, volcanic sands, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence the gun; on another he grimly charged enemy riflemen who attempted to stop him with bayonets and destroyed them with a burst of flame from his weapon. His unyielding determination and extraordinary heroism in the face of ruthless enemy resistance were directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strong points encountered by his regiment and aided in enabling his company to reach its’ [sic] objective. Corporal Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN

Williams, 98, was the last of the 473 American service members who received a Medal of Honor in WWII. Of combat and his service, Hershel told The Washington Post in 2020,

“It’s one of those things you put in the recess of your mind. You were fulfilling an obligation that you swore to do–to defend your country. Anytime you take a life, there’s always some aftermath to that if you’ve got any heart at all.”


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