Nation’s last WWII Medal of Honor winner dies at age 98
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, whose heroics under fire over several crucial hours at the Battle of Iwo Jima made him a legend in his native West Virginia, died Wednesday. He was 98.
Williams' foundation announced on Twitter and Facebook that he died at the Veterans Affairs medical center bearing his name in Huntington.
“Today, America lost not just a valiant Marine and a Medal of Honor recipient, but an important link to our Nation’s fight against tyranny in the Second World War,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. “I hope every American will pause to reflect on his service and that of an entire generation that sacrificed so much to defend the cause of freedom and democracy.”
As a young Marine corporal, Williams went ahead of his unit in February 1945 and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions.
Later that year, at age 22, Williams received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor, from President Harry Truman at the White House.
“Woody Williams will go down in history as one of the greatest West Virginians who ever lived, and we salute him for everything he gave to our state and our nation,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said Williams “was the embodiment of a true American hero. Americans like Woody answered the call to serve our great nation and their sacrifices allow us to enjoy the freedoms we hold dear.”