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World War II Medal of Honor recipient lying in state at the U.S. Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin announced Sunday at a memorial service honoring Williams for his bravery and his humility was remembered and unselfishness.

“He never stopped giving back,” Manchin said. This included raising money for Goldstar families — immediate family members of fallen service members — with an annual motorcycle ride.

“It’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Manchin said. He joked, “It’s not going to stop because Woody would be after me in a heartbeat.”

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he will miss Williams’ phone calls, noting that Williams would always give him directions and to-do lists.

“I’ll miss him telling me how to vote. And if I didn’t, how did I make a mistake,” Manchin said.

Williams, who died Wednesday at the age of 98, was a legend in his native West Virginia for his exploits under fire during several crucial hours in the Battle of Iwo Jima. As a young Marine Corporal in February 1945, Williams went ahead of his unit and eliminated a number of Japanese machine gun positions. Williams fought handguns for four hours, returning again and again to prepare demolition charges and obtain flamethrowers.

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Later that year, 22-year-old Williams received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for military valor.

Gen. David H. Berger, commander of the US Marine Corps, said at the memorial service that Williams was always offended by the idea that he accomplished the feat alone. He always paid tribute to the other men on his team, some of whom never returned home.

“Woody is maybe the most genuine person I’ve ever met,” Berger said, noting his unique combination of humility and humor. “He could make you laugh. He might interest you. That was his gift.”

Williams remained in the Marines after the war, serving a total of 20 years before serving as a Veterans Service Representative for the Veterans Administration for 33 years. In 2018, the Huntington, VA Medical Center was renamed in his honor, and the Navy commissioned a mobile base seagoing vessel in his name in 2020.

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“He left an indelible mark on our Marine Corps,” Berger said. “As long as there are Marines, his legacy will live on.”

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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/07/03/wwii-medal-of-honor-recipient-to-lie-in-state-at-us-capitol/ World War II Medal of Honor recipient lying in state at the U.S. Capitol

Sarah Y. Kim

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