just one Marine
Often we refer to WWII as being "....on the edge of living memory." We are reaching the point where we may need to start saying, "...just outside living memory."
We reached an inflection point at the end of June;
Medal of Honor Recipient and World War II Veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, 98 has died on Wednesday. Williams was born on Oct. 2, 1923, and grew up in Quiet Dell in Marion County, West Virginia.
Williams was the last living WWII Medal of Honor recipient. 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,” the Woody Williams Foundation website says.
Following his service 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 served as the Commandant for the Veterans Nursing Home in Barboursville, West Virginia for almost 10 years and has served on the Governor’s Military Advisory Board for West Virginia.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as demolition sergeant serving with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 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, Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machinegun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by 4 riflemen, he fought desperately for 4 hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out 1 position after another. On 1 occasion, he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent, killing the occupants and silencing 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 vitally in enabling his company to reach its objective.
Cpl. Williams' aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
A great Marine, an exemplary Shipmate, and a life well lived. Thank you Woody. We were all better for you.