Hershel “Woody” Williams

Hershel “Woody” Williams passed away on June 29 of last year, at the age of 98. 

A native of Marion County who would go on to be awarded the Medal of Honor, Woody Williams was originally considered too short for acceptance into the United States Marines Corps. Undeterred by his own physical stature, Woody would successfully enlist in 1943 after the military altered their height requirements. 

Woody Williams’ Medal of Honor citation – signed by President Harry S. Truman – reads:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Demolition Sergeant serving with the First Battalion, Twenty-First Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Island, 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, Corporal Williams daringly went forward alone to attempt the reduction of devastating machine-gun fire from the unyielding positions. Covered only by four riflemen, 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 flame throwers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another. On one occasion he daringly mounted a pillbox to insert the nozzle of his flame thrower through the air vent, kill the occupants and silence 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 in enabling his company to reach its’ objective. Corporal Williams’ aggressive fighting spirit and valiant devotion to duty throughout this fiercely contested action sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

As we celebrate the week of our nation’s birthday, The RealWV would like to thank West Virginia’s own Hershel “Woody” Williams for being a true American hero, and fighting to preserve the values upon which our country was founded. 

RealWV is proud to posthumously name Woody Williams as the certified Real West Virginian of the Week. 

If you’d like to nominate someone as The Real West Virginian of the Week, email us at news@therealwv.com.


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