Last remaining World War II Medal of Honor recipient to lie in honor at US Capitol
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Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, will lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, congressional leaders announced Sunday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the ceremony to honor Williams, a Marine Corps retired Chief Warrant Officer 4, will take place at a later date when Congress resumes session and after they consult with the family.
FILE – Woody Williams, 94, the only living Marine Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, gets ready to assist with the coin toss, before the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)
“Woody Williams embodied the best of America: living a life of duty, honor and courage,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
“His fearless valor at Iwo Jima and throughout the Pacific Theater helped power an American victory over fascism in the Second World War and earned him a deeply deserved Medal of Honor,” she added.
“When Woody lies in honor under the Capitol Dome, it will be with immense gratitude for his service that Congress will pay tribute to this legendary hero — and all of the patriots who fought for our nation in World War II,” she added.
Schumer similarly called Williams “an American hero who embodied the best of our country and the greatest generation.”
Hershel W. ‘Woody’ Williams was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.
(Josh Brasted/Getty Images)
“This is only a small tribute to someone who has made as impactful contributions to America as Woody and all our brave soldiers who fought against tyranny and defended our country in World War II,” the senator added. “Whether it was for his acts of bravery in combat or his tireless advocacy for all veterans and their families, Woody made our entire country, especially his fellow West Virginians, proud.”
Williams died on Wednesday at the age of 98. He was a legend in his native West Virginia for his heroics under fire over several crucial hours at the battle for Iwo Jima. As a young Marine corporal, Williams went ahead of his unit in February 1945 and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions. Facing small-arms fire, Williams fought for four hours, repeatedly returning to prepare demolition charges and obtain flamethrowers.
Herschel “Woody” Williams was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.
Later that year, the 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.
Williams remained in the Marines after the war, serving a total of 20 years, before working for the Veterans Administration for 33 years as a veterans service representative. In 2018, the Huntington VA medical center was renamed in his honor, and the Navy commissioned a mobile base sea vessel in his name in 2020.
Williams will join a small honored group of people who have lain in honor at the Capitol – including Rosa Parks, the Reverend Billy Graham and four U.S. Capitol Police officers.
The American flag flies at half-staff before a ceremony for late Senator Harry Reid at the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
(Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)
In 1958, Congress held a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda to honor all those soldiers who were not identified or brought back from fighting in Europe or the Pacific during the Second World War.
The Unknown Soldiers of World War II and the Korean War were lain in state in May of 1958.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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