‘Rest In Peace, Sir’: Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, The Last WWII Medal of Honor Recipient, Dies At 98

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American hero and the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient has passed away.

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams of West Virginia died just a few months short of his 99th birthday.

President Harry S. Truman awarded Williams with the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 5, 1945 for his heroism in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division.

During his exploits on Iwo Jima, Williams’ unit landed on the island two days after the battle had begun. They faced steep volcanic-sand beaches, which prevented them from advancing.

Williams was in very close proximity to Japanese forces who were protected by bunkers. Williams was the only marine left by February 23, 1945.

These actions earned Williams the Medal of Honor. “This medal doesn’t belong to me,” Williams said. “It belongs to them because they gave their lives for me. I was just doing a job that I was trained to do,” he said.

Williams has been asked on multiple occasions where he found the courage to get through that day.

“Everybody has some instinct of bravery,” Williams said. “And, as long as they can control the fear, you can be brave. But if fear overtakes you and becomes the dominant instinct, you cannot operate.” Watch the video:

“You cannot operate under fear. Your brain won’t let you,” he said. “I feel that our upbringing had some influence on our bravery because we were taught in the depression years, if you didn’t have it, you had to make it. And the only way you could make it was to work at it. Our upbringing gave us the confidence that developed into bravery.”

More on this story via Daily Wire:

He volunteered to continue the mission himself, with four riflemen providing as much cover fire as they could. And in just four hours, Williams was able to take out seven pillboxes.

“That made a hole big enough that [the company] could go through and get behind any other pillboxes that were in that area,” Williams explained. “Once you got behind the pillboxes, then we had the advantage.”

In the years after the war, Williams returned to serving Gold Star families — creating the Woody Williams Foundation in an effort to make sure those families are recognized.

“To date, Woody and his foundation are responsible for establishing 103 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States with more than 72 additional monuments underway in 50 states and 1 U.S. Territory. The Foundation continues to grow its reach by being involved in multiple initiatives across the country,” the website states.

“If we lose our freedom we lose America,” Williams said, adding that freedom and America were always worth fighting for.

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