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Hershel 'Woody' Williams MoH

Discussion in 'WWII Obituaries' started by GRW, Jun 29, 2022.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "The last Second World War recipient of the Medal of Honor has died 'peacefully' aged 98.
    Hershel 'Woody' Williams passed away early Wednesday morning at the VA medical center in West Virginia.
    Williams was born in 1923 in Quiet Dell, West Virginia, the youngest of 11 children. By the time he was born, many of his siblings had already died in the flu pandemic of 1918-19, and when Williams was 11, his father died of a heart attack.
    As World War 2 approached, Williams told the Washington Post he was only interested in joining the Marine Corps because of their stylish blue uniforms.
    The Army's 'old brown wool uniform … was the ugliest thing in town,' he said. 'I do not want to be in that thing. I want to be in those dress blues.'
    Aside from the uniforms, Williams says he knew 'nothing' about the Marine Corps.
    Standing at 5 foot 6 inches, Williams was first turned away from the armed forces for being too short.
    But requirements became less stringent as the war went on, and eventually he was allowed to join.
    While he thought he'd be defending his homeland from invaders, Williams was soon sent to the grisly Pacific Theater to fight Japanese forces.
    On the island of Guadalcanal, Williams was first introduced to the weapon that would make him a hero - the flamethrower.
    Williams became proficient with the weapon and a year later led a team of flame thrower and demolition men at the infamous Battle of Iwo Jima, which saw the largest single deployment of US Marines attempt to wrest the island from the Japanese army.
    It was during this chaotic battle that Williams made a name for himself. American forces had trouble advancing due to Japanese 'pillboxes,' a type of fortified concrete bunker with small slits for the occupants to shoot out from.
    The Americans found them difficult to fight against until Williams came along.
    He almost single-handedly used his flamethrower to clear out seven pillboxes, returning to his lines for fresh weapons and heading back out into battle five separate times.
    Despite engaging in battle for over five hours that day, Williams has said he remembers little of his heroic actions. He said his memory of the day 'is just a blank. I have no memory.'"

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