Who was Hershel W. Williams?
- Hershel W. Williams was the last living recipient of WWII Medal of Honor
- He joined the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima
- After serving in WWII, Williams worked to serve veterans and their families
Medal of Honor Recipient and World War II Veteran Hershel Hershel W. Williams died Wednesday at the age of 98. Williams was born on Oct. 2, 1923, and grew up in Quiet Dell in Marion County, West Virginia.
He was the last living recipient of WWII Medal of Honor – the United States military's highest decoration for valor. He 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,” according to the Woody Williams Foundation website.
After serving in WWII, Williams worked to serve veterans and their families as a Veterans Service Representative for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 33 years.
He also was part of the Veterans Nursing Home in Barboursville as a Commandant for almost 10 years and served on the Governor’s Military Advisory Board for West Virginia.
Williams was named a Distinguished West Virginian in 1980 and in 2013. He is a member of the West Virginia Hall of Fame.
The Huntington VA Medical Center has also renamed the Hershel “Woody” Williams VA Medical Center in his honor in 2018.
He founded the Woody Williams Foundation, a non-profit organization that establishes Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments and conducts outreach programs for Gold Star Families.
In a 2020 Washington Post interview remembering the 75th anniversary of the Iwo Jima battle, Williams said: "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."
His wife Ruby died in 2007. He is survived by his two daughters.
A statement from the Woody Williams Foundation says that Woody “went home to the be with the Lord” and that he “peacefully joined his beloved wife Ruby while surrounded by his family at the VA Medical Center which bears his name.”