…from The Washington Post

[ Editor’s Note: We reach an historical WWII moment with the passing of Woody Williams, the last Medal of Honor recipient from that long and horrible war. He took out a half dozen pill boxes on Iwo Jima that had been mowing down the Marines trying to break through the Japanese defense line.

Woody was actually the demolitions supply seargant, but when all of his unit’s demolition teams had been killed by noon of the third day, he found himself stepping up and having a go at doing the impossible, blowing a big hole in the Japanese line so the Marines could rush through to capture the airport and cut the island in half.

Woody in his prime, the Energizer Bunny of the Medal of Honor Society

I met him by chance in Atlanta when attending a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam War recipient who had canceled at the last moment. Woody was the quick replacement. I arrived late to the luncheon event with a guest, but we had to split up, as no double seats were open.

The angels took me over to an empty seat by an old WWII guy, and yes, it was Woody. As he was in town for a weekend of events, I was able to get him to stop by my home studio to shoot his story, and then I drove him to the airport for his flight home. That magic hour remains one of the gems of the Jim Dean Journal public tv series in Atlanta.

We crossed paths again many years later after he had started his Medal of Honor Foundation with two of his grandchildren, on a quest to build Gold Star family monuments around the USA. I saw him one more time two summers ago in Detriot at one of his Gold Star monument dedication ceremonies.

We were all hoping to see him make it to 100. But he did get 103 monuments dedicated, with 72 in progress, in 50 states and 1 US territory, an incredible achievement.

He was a humble man to the end, sharing with me during our interview that his greatest honor had been to be the chaplain of the Medal of Honor Society, saying “even greater than this one” as he tapped his MoH. It was a magical moment.

We are sad at his loss, but were honored to watch him doing about 100 in person events a year, all done to keep alive the memories of those who never made it back to tell their stories… Jim W. Dean ]

Woody did not know what he was getting decorated for until he got to the ceremony

First published June 29, 2022

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, a Marine Corps veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima who was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, died June 29 at a hospital in Huntington, W.Va. He was 98.

His death was announced by the Woody Williams Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves Gold Star military families, and by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The cause was not immediately available.

Mr. Williams, who grew up on a West Virginia dairy farm, was a 21-year-old Marine corporal when he carried out the assault on the Japanese at Iwo Jima for which he received the nation’s highest military award for valor.

He found himself on the volcanic island in the first days of the U.S. invasion that began on Feb. 19, 1945.

One of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, Iwo Jima is seared in American memory as the site of the flag-raising at Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. The moment was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning image by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and commemorated in the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va.

Mr. Williams’s heroic actions occurred the same day. He witnessed the flag-raising but said he had limited memory of his own role in the battle, which took the lives of 7,000 Marines, including his best friend. His medal citation recounts his “unyielding determination … in the face of ruthless enemy resistance” and a display of courage that was “directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment.”

“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,” the citation reads, “Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions.”

Armed with a flamethrower, and under unremitting fire, he was credited with destroying a series of Japanese fortifications.

“On one occasion,” according to the citation, “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.”

Mr. Williams was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in October 1945, months after the Japanese surrender that ended World War II.

Mr. Williams, who attained the rank of chief warrant officer 4, later pursued a career with what is now the Department of Veterans Affairs and ran a horse farm.

“It’s one of those things that you put in the recess of your mind,” Mr. Williams told The Washington Post in 2020, reflecting 75 years later on his service at Iwo Jima. “You were fulfilling an obligation that you swore to do, to defend your country.

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, a Marine Corps veteran of the Battle of Iwo Jima who was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, died June 29 at a hospital in Huntington, W.Va. He was 98.

His death was announced by the Woody Williams Foundation, a nonprofit organization that serves Gold Star military families, and by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The cause was not immediately available.

Mr. Williams, who grew up on a West Virginia dairy farm, was a 21-year-old Marine corporal when he carried out the assault on the Japanese at Iwo Jima for which he received the nation’s highest military award for valor.

He found himself on the volcanic island in the first days of the U.S. invasion that began on Feb. 19, 1945.

One of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, Iwo Jima is seared in American memory as the site of the flag-raising at Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. The moment was captured in a Pulitzer Prize-winning image by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal and commemorated in the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va.

Mr. Williams’s heroic actions occurred the same day. He witnessed the flag-raising but said he had limited memory of his own role in the battle, which took the lives of 7,000 Marines, including his best friend. His medal citation recounts his “unyielding determination … in the face of ruthless enemy resistance” and a display of courage that was “directly instrumental in neutralizing one of the most fanatically defended Japanese strongpoints encountered by his regiment.”

“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,” the citation reads, “Cpl. Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions.”

Armed with a flamethrower, and under unremitting fire, he was credited with destroying a series of Japanese fortifications.

“On one occasion,” according to the citation, “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.”

Mr. Williams was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in October 1945, months after the Japanese surrender that ended World War II.

Mr. Williams, who attained the rank of chief warrant officer 4, later pursued a career with what is now the Department of Veterans Affairs and ran a horse farm.

“It’s one of those things that you put in the recess of your mind,” Mr. Williams told The Washington Post in 2020, reflecting 75 years later on his service at Iwo Jima. “You were fulfilling an obligation that you swore to do, to defend your country. Any time you take a life … there’s always some aftermath to that if you’ve got any heart at all.”

SOURCEJim W. Dean and Washington Post

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Sad to see the passing of the Greatest Generation, farm boys like Woody who fought fascism and then communism because it had to be done. And then they came home, and did volunteer work for their community for the rest of their days. At least some of the Baby Boomers absorbed those values. My husband was at the local hospital the other day, speaking with some Boomers (who themselves have health problems) who serve as volunteer drivers bringing people to their medical appointments.

  2. In the army of the biggest rogue-state ever existed on planet Earth is no honour, never was any honour. The loss of honour started already after the War of Independence, when the US tried to export their model of a so called democracy to British-Canada. But the Canadians never wanted it. Occupying the southwest-states, colonising Hawaii & the Philippines started the career of the Rogue-State losing any sense of humanity. Since then any US-Soldier or GI is and was a war-criminal. So every braveheart on the planet hopes for the victory of the multipolarised party with the consequences that US-war-criminals get punished in the future internationally. The planet is waiting for the US-people paying reparations for their endless wars of aggression.

  3. It’s certainly sad to see how Japan has fallen.

    While the Holodomor was taking place in south Russia and in Ukraine, and millions were being starved to death, the exact same thing happened under Franklin Roosevelt in America. Over 6 million Americas were starved to death in the 1930s by the banking cartel. The American media hid everything.

    Meanwhile, in Japan, the Japanese reorganized Japan into a State bank in 1932 completely free of foreign control. While the U.S. population was being starved to death by bankers in mass Luciferian sacrifices, between 1930-1941, Japan had its manufacturing increase by 140% and its GDP increased 259%. As punishment for being free of Zionist banking cartels, America blocked Japan’s access to world raw materials, which led to WW2.

    Now Japan is nothing more than NATO’s and the Rothschild’s little bitch at G7 meetings. Japan has a national debt now even worse than America. The entire current Japanese leadership has sold out, disgraced, and utterly humiliated their nation on every level. The current bank of Japan is a Rothschild-controlled central bank just like in the United States.

    • Mihail, WWII was a horror for all sides… except for the USA and Canada where no fighting actually went on. Many US troops, including my Dad, came home and were silent for decades about what atrocities they had committed on civilian populations all over the planet. Modern warfare is a war crime, pure and simple. There’s no longer such thing anymore as a “just” war.

  4. Eternal glory to this brave soldier and nice man! It was the strongest generation.
    RIP.

  5. Woody was one of the most humble and gracious people I have ever met. Atlanta was very good to me for all the people I got to meet via public tv, an opportunity that just fell out of the sky. Some heritage org associates tipped me off about it, $65 for the 7 classes and then the facility and air times was free, with no censorship other than ‘no frontal nudity’ and three words you could not say. One, of course was the N-word, but they would never tell us what the other two were 🙂 Those 400 to 500 shows were a great incubator for the VT work which was another fluke. Someone on my email list group, dean of Vanderbuilt medical school, sent me one of Gordon’s articles after I put out the word that I was looking for non-ass-kisser miliary officers to help fight the monsters. Hooking up with the right people is critical for being more able to get things done. Unfortunately the boomers are dying off now.

    • When to Lyndon Johnson once was asked him if there is a light at the end of the tunnel he answered which light you talk if there don’t even have any tunnel

  6. Great to have you back in action, Jim. Your long experience and connections are a bonus to every article you promote on VT. Mr. Willians was a national treasure who almost made it to 100. Many enlisted men, including my dad, came home and didn’t brag or even talk about what a horror WWII was. And, here we are in 2022 poking the Russian bear just to see what will happen. What foolishness…

    • Yes, and it dishonours their sacrifices as we now create wars because it is good for business as the war grifters get a big bump in their cash flow and the rebuilding after is another big business opportunity bump. The Vietnam War vets had a front row seat to the scam, which is why they began protest marching. When Gordon was at Michigan State, post Nam, they had about 6000 Nam Vets there. If an anti-war lunchtime rally was called for, 6000 would show up, half of them Nam Vets. And the cops were very polite to them :-).

    • Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…..But, they did. Mostly, because the colleges got rid of their old liberal hippie teaching staff. Too bad.

    • Actually, those weren’t the days, Ferdinand. I got out of high school in 1966 and was all patri-idiot over joining the military. My WWII veteran dad (D-day and all) said, “Are you f-ing crazy? This war is just like all the others, “rich people” (actually he used a word that would be moderated even on VT) making money.” He got me a job in the paper mill where he worked and I managed to get a 2S draft deferment to enroll in the University of Wisconsin (Instate Tuition, $65/semester) while 4 of my friends in a HS class of 59 were killed in that awful war. Thankfully, I was eventually able to become a Special Education teacher instead of killing Vietnamese.

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