(Video Credit: West Virginia International Yeager Airport)
The last surviving World War II veteran to have received a Medal of Honor, Hershel “Woody” Williams, has sadly passed away surrounded by his family in his final hours at a hospital in his home state of West Virginia.
Williams was 98 and the last living recipient left of the 473 American service members who received a Medal of Honor in WWII.
His family had asked for Americans to pray for him on Tuesday. He was called home Wednesday morning.
“As he lives out his last days, we welcome and appreciate any additional prayers lifted up on behalf of Woody and his family,” his family said in a statement before his death.
Hershel “Woody” Williams, America’s last living WWII #MedalofHonor recipient, passed away this morning at 98. Woody exemplified a life of service through his bravery during the Battle of Iwo Jima, as an advocate for veterans & through the @WWFoundation serving Gold Star Families. pic.twitter.com/ydZzuy171V
— National Medal Of Honor Museum (@MohMuseum) June 29, 2022
There are 63 remaining Medal of Honor recipients in America. They honored the Marine in a statement that was given to Fox News Digital.
“Friends and family of Woody Williams knew him as a West Virginia farmer’s son and the youngest of 11 children who dutifully supported his family after his father died,” the statement commented through the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “Fellow Marines knew him as the corporal who volunteered for a mission on Iwo Jima to clear a lane through enemy pillboxes that were destroying American tanks.”
“Veterans in West Virginia knew him as their advocate through his work as a Veterans Service Representative. Gold Star families knew Woody through his work raising money for scholarships and other programs through the Woody Williams Foundation,” they added. “We, his fellow Medal of Honor Recipients, knew him as our friend and one of our heroes. We will miss him greatly.”
(Video Credit: Carry The Load)
Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman for heroism during the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
While in Iwo Jima, Williams served as a flamethrower operator. He destroyed numerous Japanese pillboxes and other gun emplacements without any assistance while putting himself in great danger. Over four hours, he wiped out one enemy position after another. He only returned to American lines to refuel.
The war hero was last seen on Memorial Day. He took part in a veterans’ event in Huntington, West Virginia. Williams told the local media that the event gave him hope for a resurgence of patriotism in the U.S.
“I’ve been at this probably 25 to 30 times, but I believe today we had more honor wreaths than we’ve ever had before, and that’s encouraging,” Williams told WSAZ in an interview. “It gives me encouragement that we’re coming back and that we will again be that United States of America that had so much patriotism and love of country.”
Following a solemn procession for Williams where he was honored, The Woody Williams Foundation wrote Wednesday according to WSAZ, “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.”
“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 the people continue to carry on his mission,” they added.
— alex kershaw (@kershaw_alex) June 29, 2022
Senator Joe Manchin (D), who was a close friend of Williams, said he visited him one last time on Sunday, according to MetroNews.
“We called VA Secretary Denis McDonough so he could thank Woody directly for his unparalleled service to our nation,” Manchin said in a statement. “In true Woody fashion, he wanted to discuss the importance of completing the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar – his most recent Veterans project – to ensure that the families of our fallen soldiers and Veterans have a safe place to lay their loved ones to rest, protected from the weather throughout the year. I am determined to carry on the legacy of my dear friend by getting the shelter built.”
“I will miss riding with Woody during our annual motorcycle ride for Gold Star Families; he was always my wingman. One of my most cherished memories with Woody is traveling to California and Virginia with him when his ship was commissioned and christened. During those moments, Woody showed the world the true nature of being a West Virginian with his humility and grace. As the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Woody represented the last of the Greatest Generation. With the passing of Woody, their legacies and honor are laid to rest,” Manchin remarked.
We join all West Virginians in praying for Woody’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) June 29, 2022
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) said West Virginia lost one of its proudest sons and a true hero on Wednesday.
“I am so sad to learn that my friend Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, passed away at the age of 98,” Capito said in a statement. “Woody embodied exactly what the Greatest Generation was all about: Service to country above self. Not only are his acts of valor on the battlefield well-documented, but the lives he touched in the years since serving had a lasting impact on every person he met. He inspired many to love their country, enter the service, and reminded everyone why our ‘nation under God’ is the greatest on earth. One of the best West Virginians we’ve ever known is now gone, but his lifetime of service and incredible legacy will be with us forever.”
Today, West Virginia lost one of its proudest sons, Hershel "Woody" Williams, the last surviving WWII Medal of Honor recipient.
Woody is a hero in every sense of the word, and I was proud to call him a friend.
My prayers are with his family & loved ones. Rest in peace, Woody 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/bPaJ8LrWyK
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) June 29, 2022
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