Final Living American Medal of Honor Recipient from World War II Passes Away

The Greatest Generation is fading away. The final living American who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in World War II died Wednesday. Hershel “Woody” Williams was 98 years old, according to the Marine Corps Times. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism in the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945. Williams landed on the heavily fortified Pacific island with the 3rd Marine Division as a demolition sergeant. The West Virginia native’s Medal of Honor Citation described how he “fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers.” The Marine advanced alone on superior Japanese positions, covered only by four riflemen. The citation described how Williams “daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flamethrower through the air vent,” killing the Japanese soldiers inside who were attacking his comrades with machinegun fire. Williams was decorated with the Medal of Honor at the White House in October 1945. President Harry Truman bestowed him with the highest honor awarded to American service members. Williams was the last surviving Medal of Honor awardee as of late 2021, according to the American Veterans Center. With his death, the American heroes have all faded into history. Williams died at a Veterans Affairs Hospital that bore his own name in his honor, in Huntington, West Virginia. If you end up dying in a hospital that’s named after you, you’ve probably done something right in life. In a statement after his death, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia hailed Williams as “the embodiment of a true American hero.” Manchin recounted visiting Williams for the last time on Sunday, just days before his death. The Marine Corps veteran asked him to complete the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery to honor America’s service members in their final meeting, according to Manchin. “Woody’s family would like to express their sincere gratitude for all the love and support,” the Facebook page of Williams’ personal foundation stated. “Woody’s wish is that people continue to carry on his mission.” CORRECTION, Jan. 19, 2023: The title of this article has been changed to reflect The Western Journal’s style in regard to Medal of Honor recipients. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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