Local vets and officials remember Woody Williams and his impact
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The last living medal of honor recipient of World War II, Woody Williams passed away Wednesday morning.
As a young marine corporal, Williams went ahead of his unit during the battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Ocean in February 1945 and eliminated a series of Japanese machine gun positions.
Marine Corps League Mideast division chaplain, Scott kirby says that this sort of action is attributed to woody’s selflessness.
“Woody has said several times that that medal that he wears around his neck is not for him,” says Kirby. “It’s for those people that he was with that he was fighting for.”
After receiving the medal of honor at age 22 and his service, Williams spent 30 years working at Veteran Affairs.
He also provides scholarships through the “Woody Williams Foundation” and adds what was originally the “Gold Star Mother’s Memorial.”
Before it changed to “Gold Star Families Memorial” after a conversation with a Parkersburg veteran.
Kirby says, “It was actually at one of the fundraising dinners that was at here in Parkersburg when we raised the first Gold Star Families monument in Vienna, a gentleman kind of pulled Woody aside and said, ‘You know, dads cry too.’”
Along with Kirby, many who have met Williams have nothing but the best to say about the World War II veteran.
“I’m very honored to have got the chance to spend time with him face-to-face. Albeit, brief both occasions. But I know the people who really were in his orbit thought the world of him. And, in my brief encounters with him, I can certainly see why,” says Parkersburg mayor, Tom Joyce.
Those who have met Williams talk highly about how humble the medal of honor recipient is, as well as his resiliency.
“Shoot he tried to get into the marine corps three times, but he was told he was too short and then he wins the nation’s highest honor as a marine that you could, and that’s the medal of honor. There’s just so many things we can sit and talk about Woody for hours and probably not touch everything that he means to everybody,” says Kirby.
Even in Williams’ last days, he continued to do whatever he could for veterans.
Kirby says, “Woody wasn’t thinking about himself even knowing that, you know, ‘I’m living my last days right now.’ He’s still thinking about veterans and their families and other folks.”
“This world and this country would be a much better place if everybody was a little bit more like Woody Williams,” says Joyce.
Copyright 2022 WTAP. All rights reserved.