Region, nation reacts to passing of Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 9:38 AM EDT
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CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams passed away early Wednesday morning at the Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia, according to the Woody Williams Foundation.

Williams, a West Virginia native, was 98 years old.

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, 98, passes away

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice responded on Twitter writing, “Woody Williams will go down in history as one of the greatest West Virginians who ever lived, and we salute him for everything he gave to our state and our nation. Pray that, while the weight of this loss is profound, we all will be able to take solace in the fact that Woody’s contributions to our nation inspired generations, cultivated similar bravery, and saved lives.”

The governor says he will be signing a proclamation to lower all United States and West Virginia flags to half-staff statewide in Williams honor. The proclamation will be issued once the date of his funeral is announced.

Gov. Justice has offered for Williams to lie in state in the Capitol as well as holding a State funeral for Williams at the West Virginia Capitol.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released the following statement on the death of West Virginia’s revered hero:

“Woody Williams was the embodiment of a true American hero. Americans like Woody answered the call to serve our great nation and their sacrifices allow us to enjoy the freedoms we hold dear. Gayle and I are devastated by the loss of our dear friend who meant so much to so many across our great state and entire nation. We join all West Virginians in praying for Woody’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.

“Last Sunday, I was honored to visit with Woody one last time. We called VA Secretary Denis McDonough so he could thank Woody directly for his unparalleled service to our nation. In true Woody fashion, he wanted to discuss the importance of completing the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar – his most recent Veterans project – to ensure that the families of our fallen soldiers and Veterans have a safe place to lay their loved ones to rest, protected from the weather throughout the year. I am determined to carry on the legacy of my dear friend by getting the shelter built.

“Woody was a tireless advocate for all Veterans and their family members. Over the years, my staff and I worked with Woody on too many issues to name, including for Gold Star Families, improving our Veterans hospitals and healthcare, and recognizing the contributions of our servicemembers. I will miss riding with Woody during our annual motorcycle ride for Gold Star Families; he was always my wingman. One of my most cherished memories with Woody is traveling to California and Virginia with him when his ship was commissioned and christened. During those moments, Woody showed the world the true nature of being a West Virginian with his humility and grace. As the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Woody represented the last of the Greatest Generation. With the passing of Woody, their legacies and honor are laid to rest.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) released the following statement on the death of West Virginia native, Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

“West Virginia lost one of its proudest sons today, and the United States lost a true hero. I am so sad to learn that my friend Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, passed away at the age of 98. Woody embodied exactly what the Greatest Generation was all about: Service to country above self. Not only are his acts of valor on the battlefield well-documented, but the lives he touched in the years since serving had a lasting impact on every person he met. He inspired many to love their country, enter the service, and reminded everyone why our ‘nation under God’ is the greatest on earth. One of the best West Virginians we’ve ever known is now gone, but his lifetime of service and incredible legacy will be with us forever.”

Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs:

“Today, America lost one of its bravest heroes and Veterans lost one of their staunchest advocates. We at VA mourn Woody Williams, and our hearts go out to his family and all those who loved him.”

U.S. Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) wrote the following on Twitter Wednesday:

“Today, we have lost an American hero. Woody Williams embodied the ‘Greatest Generation.’ The Americans who volunteered to fight for their country. As a Medal of Honor recipient, he never quit helping his country and those who served. Woody is a hero in every sense of the word. I am grateful to have called him my friend. Woody will be sorely missed, but his legacy of service, dedication, and patriotism will live on through the countless lives he’s touched. May God be with his family during this time, & may we never forget the unyielding commitment Woody had for the United States of America. God bless Woody Williams.”

Tuesday, Rep. Miller has renewed her push for legislation allowing Woody Williams to lie in state.

Wednesday she wrote, “There are absolutely ZERO reasons why West Virginia’s own Woody Williams, the last WWII Medal of Honor recipient who recently passed, shouldn’t lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol. @SpeakerPelosi bring my resolution to the floor NOW so we can #HonorWoody

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin issued the following statement after learning of the passing of Woody Williams:

“We are saddened by the passing of Medal of Honor Recipient and World War II Veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams – a true American hero. He has been an inspiration to me, personally, and to many across our state and our nation. Woody Williams has been instrumental in supporting West Virginia’s military members and families – especially through his work for Gold Star Families. He leaves behind a legacy of service and will certainly be missed.”

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams released the following statement:

”We have been honored to have an original American hero living in our midst. Woody Williams fought to preserve all that is good about our nation. He taught us that we are “one nation under God.” He taught us dignity and integrity. He taught us kindness and humility. Woody Williams and I were not related, but I was always honored to share his last name. His example will live in our institutions and in our hearts for an eternity.”

Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine posted the following on Twitter Wednesday regarding Williams’ death:

“This morning, we lost another member of the #GreatestGeneration as the last surviving #WWII Medal of Honor recipient, Woody Williams, died. May his memory and life of service be an inspiration to others.”

Rep. David McKinley wrote the following on Twitter Wednesday:

“The loss of Woody Williams is felt not only in West Virginia, but across the nation. Woody was the best of us. A hero at Iwo Jima, he was an icon to veterans across the nation and became their voice on matters before Congress and in state houses. Our nation mourns his passing.”

The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation released the following statement Wednesday, “The National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation mourns the passing of Hershel “Woody” Williams, who passed away on June 29, 2022, at the age of ninety-eight. Woody was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. More than that, he was a loving family man of profound honor and integrity who devoted much of his life after World War II to supporting American veterans and their families. He lived always by the finest standards of the United States Marine Corps.”

To read the full statement from the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, CLICK HERE.

Congressman Alex X. Mooney issued the following statement after the death of World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams.

”West Virginia has lost one of its finest sons. Woody Williams was a true American hero from the Greatest Generation, and I am saddened by his death. Woody dedicated his life to service from the Battle of Iwo Jima to being an advocate for veterans up until his final days. His legacy will live on in West Virginia and beyond. My prayers are with his family and friends during this time. Rest in peace, Woody.”

Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, issued the following statement on the passing of Hershel “Woody” Williams:

“The entire West Virginia National Guard is deeply saddened by the loss of Woody and we send our condolences to the family, friends and all those who knew and loved him. For the entirety of his life, Woody has demonstrated valor, humility, kindness and an unwavering dedication to veterans and Gold Star Families. Through his advocacy work with the Woody Williams Foundation, he has impacted thousands upon thousands of lives by advancing the cause for Gold Star Family recognition and numerous veteran’s issues. Woody was a true friend of the West Virginia National Guard and his life inspired so many within our ranks. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Woody and his foundation and for all that he has done for West Virginia, our United States military and for Gold Star Families across the United States. He will forever be an example of the embodiment of West Virginia values and is a hero to not only us, but so many across the country. Our hope is that Woody’s life and service will continue to inspire future generations of West Virginians to serve and serve others for as he would say, ‘The cause is greater than I.” Semper Fi, Woody.”

Senate President Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) released the following statement:

“Today, I join with all West Virginians in mourning the death of a true American hero. Woody Williams represented the best of West Virginia – a love for his family, a sense of service to his country, and a dedication to honoring our veterans. While we’ve now lost the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, his legacy of service above self and love of his country will continue to live through the Gold Star Families memorials his foundation helped build in all 50 states. Woody’s life inspired generations, and I pray for comfort and peace for his family and friends in the coming days as they lay this great man to rest.”

The U.S. Marines posted the following on Twitter Wednesday:

“Woody captured 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 on Iwo Jima. His legacy as a warrior and an advocate for veterans will live on.”

The U.S. NAVY posted the following on Twitter Wednesday:

“Today we lost an American hero, Chief Warrant officer Hershel “Woody” Williams. Williams earned the #MedalofHonor for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima and is the namesake of the expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody Williams.”

Gen. David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps released the following statement:

“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.”

WV State Treasurer Riley Moore released the following statement:

“Rest in peace, Hershel “Woody” Williams. Woody’s heroic legacy will live on in the hearts of all West Virginians. Let’s honor his bravery and patriotism and pray for his family and loved ones.”

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