Washington, D.C. --
Today, the Marine Corps mourns the passing of Hershel “Woody” Williams. Woody exemplified the warfighting spirit of all Marines—a combat-proven leader whose lifelong dedication to all service members and Gold Star families began with his heroic actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima. His legacy as a warrior and an advocate for veterans will live on among all Marines, and he will be deeply missed.
Marine Corps retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, passed away early this morning, June 29, 2022. Woody was surrounded by his family at the VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia.
Born on October 2, 1923 in Quiet Dell, WV, Woody enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve May 26, 1943, and advanced to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 before his retirement in 1969 after 17 years of service. During WWII, Woody served in New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, and Guam before landing in Iwo Jima where his actions earned him the Medal of Honor.
Today, the Marine Corps pauses to honor Woody’s legacy and contributions to the Corps and fellow Marines.
From the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black:
"On behalf of all Marines, Sgt. Maj. Black and I are heartbroken to learn of Woody’s passing. From his actions on Iwo Jima to his lifelong service to our Gold Star Families, Woody has left an indelible mark on the legacy of our Corps. As the last of America’s “Greatest Generation” to receive the Medal of Honor, we will forever carry with us the memory of his selfless dedication to those who made the ultimate sacrifice to our great Nation. The Marine Corps is fortunate to have many heroes, but there is only one Woody Williams. Semper Fidelis, Marine."
Williams is remembered through the naming of several locations throughout his native West Virginia. Most recently, on March 7, 2020, the Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base USS Hershel Woody Williams (ESB-4) was commissioned in Norfolk, VA, commemorating Williams' legacy.
Williams’ Medal of Honor citation can be found here: https://www.usmcu.edu/Research/Marine-Corps-History-Division/Information-for-Units/Medal-of-Honor-Recipients-By-Unit/Cpl-Hershel-Woodrow-Williams/
Images of CWO4 Williams can be found at the following links:
Hershel Woodrow Williams, Retired Chief Warrant Officer Four and Medal of Honor recipient, salutes as he is introduced to the stage along with other members of the ship commissioning committee, March 7, 2020 in Norfolk, VA.
The ship commissioning ceremony continues a tradition three centuries old, observed by navies around the world and by our own Navy since December 1775, when “Alfred”, the first ship of the Continental Navy, was commissioned at Philadelphia. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Fernando Moreno)
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the battle of Iwo Jima, center, greets marines during his visit to the 5th Marine Regiment Vietnam War Memorial at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 29, 2018. Williams visited the newly unveiled memorial to honor the Marines and sailors who gave their lives guarding our great nation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexa M. Hernandez)